Do you wish to stay relevant to customers now and in the future? Amplify your tech quotient.

If you believe marketing to your customers in the current time is beyond difficult, it might be comforting for you to know that the chief marketers, the big players at giant-companies feel your pain.

At a recent CMO/CIO Summit hosted by Dell, moderators David Kirkpatrick (Editor, Techonomy) and Karen Quintos (CMO, Dell) talked with marketing top dogs from companies including Exxon, Forrester and Altimeter Group. The debate was mainly stimulating for its focus on data-driven marketing, the collision of marketing and technology.

Though we all would agree that  data has long played a role in driving customer attention to a company. But with the advancement of technology there is so much data coming your way that the challenge is what to do with such huge proportions of data. Also, understanding how to amp up your business in the “Age of the Customer” necessarily requires fluid communication between marketing and tech departments.

Here are 6 tips to be on track with customer focus:

1. Get social.
“I can’t tell you that [Twitter] absolutely leads to revenue, but look at the velocity [of deals]. If the buying cycles are shorter, it’s working,” said Sheryl Pattek, an analyst at Forrester Research. She explained the drag marketers have with social media in the business to business (B2B) world. “80% of leads now start with a referral. Those referrals often start on Twitter,” she added.

2. Set an example.
Charlene Li, the founder of Altimeter Group, added:”Ultimately the CEO has to embrace social, not just wave the red flag. They have to live it,” In simple words to truly be successful with social media a company’s leadership needs to buy in and set an example.

3. Be collaborative.
Every six months we have more effective platforms to do what we could not do before and marketers today have to keep a good know how to be on top of their game. To create a connected marketing campaign, IT needs to participate. – Mike Ludwig

“Integrated marketing 100 percent depends on IT to implement their programs, so they have to communicate,” – Mike Ludwig

4. Emphasize balance.
As data becomes ever more prominent for marketers and business owners, companies will shift more (not less) money and resources into these departments.

“Right now, the spend is $1 for marketing and $4 for selling,” – Rich Vancil,Head of IDC’s Research and Global Outreach

5. Speed-Speed-Speed
The pace of decision-making will have to pick up, what it means for marketers is that budgets will need near-constant evaluations. In the near future, marketing budgets won’t be set annually. Data allows for much more frequent analysis of what is and isn’t working hence smart team will pull the plug on a campaign not yielding them expected results.

6. Customer centered.
Customers have always been and will be central to business, but in the age of grandpa on facebook and twelve years old with their own iPhone, customers are even more elemental. So, naturally, understanding them and where they come from in this age of the customer. is key. Take the time to communicate and learn from customers, the feedback loop has to be consistent and effective. Then, make sure the entire organization is on the same page.

“The profile of the successful marketer going forward is someone who understands the data and also knows how to communicate with the customer. It has to be both,” – Mona Charif, Dell’s VP of marketing.

Compared to earlier times when getting data was important in the current situation data means nothing without a thorough human analysis and insights strategic marketing.

At the same time because of the increase in data breaches in recent time capturing and securing the data in the most efficient way requires the expertise of a technically strong mind.

The future doesn’t belong to an “either-or,” but “both-and.” marketer.