Paul Davies, UK CMO, Microsoft, is judging the Effective Use of Tech panel at this year's Warc Media Awards. Paul is also Chairman of UK advertiser trade body ISBA.

Warc's Lucy Aitken spoke to him about how accurate forecasting could help transform marketing from a cost centre into a revenue generator.

What has been the most useful new platform to emerge for your business in the past five years?

Marketing automation has made the biggest difference and has the most potential. That has a number of efficiency benefits for marketers. Culturally, it could put marketing back in the board room. Tech can move it from being a cost centre into a revenue centre. It will enable us to more accurately forecast ROI for a marketing budget and that could create a fundamental positive change.

As marketers, it's always a challenge for us to have a seat at the top table in the boardroom and not to be seen as a cost centre. The nature of marketing automation means that, in future, we will be able to accurately forecast the positive return that we can derive from a marketing investment as opposed to being seen just as a cost.

Spotify and Clear Channel claim that 100% of their inventory will be automated within five years. Will this also be the case for Microsoft?

I don't see automation replacing the need for a strong media planning discipline.  We will always need people to make sense of insight. Fundamentally, there is still a role for planning for the big idea at the heart of everything we do. While the environment adapts and we need to adapt with it, the core dynamics remain the same.

Should comms planning adapt to become mobile first?

No - definitely not! Gone are the days when we used to talk about mobile as a separate channel in its own right. It's embedded within the comms mix - it's another stream among TV, PC, tablet.

How should brands work to get the most from their partnerships/sponsorships/collaborations?

The key to success is treating it as a true partnership where both sides have something to gain in the relationship. In that way, both parties are invested in making it a success and can work together to create something that's effective on both sides. It's about understanding the touchpoints that both sides have across media properties that can be leveraged and understanding where those two parties can align and use each other's channels. For example, Microsoft's partnership with EMI and Gorillaz. The key was to do something that wouldn't have been possible without the other party.

What will future media agencies look like? How do they need to adapt?

Increasingly, we need media agencies to be specialists in marketing technologies. They need to be experts in all emerging technologies and understand how clients can apply them. There isn't a knowledge gap but the pace of change is now so huge that the demands on our agencies are different. They need to ensure that they're in front of the change and not following it.

What criteria do you use to assess an emerging platform? Who makes the decision to use an emerging platform?

A decision would be made together with our media agency. We would bring together the expertise and insight from the agency as well as the strategic direction and business needs that we have as a client.

What is your organisation's content strategy?

It's critical to our success!  Our editorial algorithm aligns paid, owned and earned media once a week and we'll discuss the big topics that we want to cover across our social channels and how we can leverage our paid and earned channels to best effect. It's a new way of thinking, with customer insight at its heart, that pulls us out of traditional marketing silos and aligns with content instead.

Warc's Media Awards recognise comms planning which has made a significant impact on business results. Free to enter, there's a $40K prize fund. To enter your work, click here. Deadline for entries: 19 September.