Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Nicole Smith

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of knowledge and subjects from before #MartechDay earlier this month — which highlighted the 2022 advertising and marketing know-how landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the major of my checklist is the most up-to-date Point out of Agile Advertising report from AgileSherpas.

As usually, this is a wonderful, extensive report on how and why agile methodologies are staying applied in advertising. You can see from the chart over that agile has located its way into a huge wide range of advertising and marketing functions: advertising and marketing operations, artistic solutions, site operations, social media, advertising, etcetera.

It’s even being utilized (30%) in activities promoting, which has extensive been the go-to illustration for skeptics: “Oh, agile could by no means do the job for activities.” (To be good, in a digital/hybrid occasion world, the pacing and adaptability of activities marketing and advertising has greater significantly.)

But contrary to previous calendar year, when 51% of contributors claimed using agile advertising and marketing, this time only 43% did. Which is shut to the 42% from 2020. Is agile promoting backsliding?

Of course, the most clear disclaimer is the study sample. Even with 513 marketers collaborating in this latest study, it is continue to a very smaller subset of the varied marketing and advertising universe and no question matter to the ebbs and flows of assortment bias.

But nonetheless. Immediately after almost 15 decades of advocacy for agile marketing, the momentum of this motion seems… stalled?

Agile advertising and marketing concepts, procedures & labels

The concepts of agile marketing, however, feel to be universally recognized as gospel truth these times. I cannot consider of a single marketer I have fulfilled in the past quite a few decades who has not embraced the values of adaptability, studying from experimentation, iterative advancement, cross-workforce collaboration, increased visibility into perform-in-flight, team empowerment, and so on.

Advertising has develop into an agile career. Comprehensive prevent.

Agile Marketing Practices

Typical agile techniques — this kind of as sprints, everyday standups, kanban boards, etc. — also seem to have proliferated extensively. Although in a lot of scenarios, they’ve morphed from their initial kind. We’ll occur back again to that in a minute, as I assume it’s the twist of article-agile.

But the labels? Not so considerably. I quite seldom hear the terms sprint, standup, or kanban in marketing and advertising conversations. Even “agile marketing” as a time period arises fewer often than it appeared a couple of yrs in the past.

Agile advertising vs. agile development trends

A few of charts from Google Trends support illustrate what’s occurring below. Initial, let us just glimpse at the advancement of the lookup time period “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart demonstrates relative look for volume for this term around the earlier 18 years. You can see that it peaked all-around 2017. (A yr following the launch of Hacking Internet marketing. Coincidence?) Considering the fact that then, it’s experienced fluctations up and down. But it mostly strike a ceiling.

To get a better sense of how significantly absolute research quantity there is for agile promoting, you have to have to compare it in opposition to an additional pattern. So let us review it versus its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two items pop appropriate out. To start with, agile promoting has accomplished only a small fraction of the mindshare that agile enhancement ever did. Second, fascination in agile growth has steadily declined since 2010. It’s about 1/4 of the volume it was at its peak.

What transpired in 2010? The rise of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

Indeed, DevOps turned the huge that stood on the shoulders of agile improvement. Its popularity has dwarfed agile growth, even from its heyday. And in contrast to all those two, agile promoting would scarcely even register on the scale.

But it is crucial to take note that DevOps arose from Agile. To estimate its Wikipedia article:

“Agile enhancement teams… could not ‘satisfy the customer by way of early and continual shipping and delivery of important software’ unless of course they subsumed the functions / infrastructure tasks related with their apps, many of which they automatic.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the techniques progress lifecycle and supply steady delivery with substantial computer software high quality.” What is constant integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) if not the ultimate mechanism for offering iterative software program growth?

As Forrest Gump may well say, “Agile is as agile does.”

The plummeting fees of “shipping” in the cloud

To be obvious, DevOps is not an agile management methodology. It’s not even an “ops” workforce (in most conditions) like other ops capabilities, such as marketing and advertising ops. Alternatively, it’s a established of methods, procedures, and know-how that builders use to ship program immediately, iteratively, and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes creating and deploying program, but deciding what to create and when nevertheless wants to take place at a amount above that. In principle, agile development methodologies these kinds of as Scrum can deliver the framework for these conclusions. But most dev teams I know really do not explicitly use individuals methodologies any longer. Most have invented their have system, pulling principles from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev task administration applications this kind of as Jira.

My take: DevOps — and much more broadly, the cloud — has drastically reduced the expenses of iteratively creating computer software. Back again in the times when agile methodologies this sort of as Scrum have been developed, the costs and complexities of shipping and delivery had been significantly greater. The rigid framework of Scrum was an powerful and necessary way to take care of that. Nowadays in a fantastic DevOps surroundings? Not as necessary?

Which is not to say that method, preparing, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration demanded all over them are not important. They’re as vital to good results as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as necessary?

(Enable the flames from ardent agile advocates commence.)

Is there a DevOps equal in promoting?

Internet marketing ops is a distinctive type of creature that DevOps. For a person, it is a position/staff in just the advertising and marketing org, fairly than a apply/procedure that all entrepreneurs use.

Still there is some shared DNA. In quite a few approaches, advertising and marketing ops teams purpose as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be equipped to “ship” marketing rapidly, iteratively, and safely and securely. Advertising and marketing ops manages the tech stack and processes to empower that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

Nevertheless with the increase of more and extra no-code abilities across martech, advertising ops is also empowering marketers with a lot more and much more self-service abilities. Just as software package deployment ops obtained “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into much more developers’ fingers with DevOps, additional abilities to execute internet marketing — the two inner and exterior marketing and advertising “deployments” — are remaining shifted into the arms of basic marketers.

I don’t know that there’s a identify for this phenomenon. It is a sort of democratization of selected sides of marketing ops. (Preferably underneath the steering, governance, and guardrails of the professional advertising and marketing ops workforce.) But it is significantly analogous to DevOps. Far more men and women can ship more promoting, speedily, conveniently, and safely and securely.

Just as with application, method, organizing, roadmaps, prioritization, team coordination and collaboration are crucial to proficiently harness this distributed electrical power of creation. But just as similarly, the fees in deploying most kinds of marketing and advertising have dropped dramatically in excess of the past decade. This has developed more slack in the marketing and advertising creation process, which has designed rigid agile promoting methodologies… not as important?

(Honestly posed as a problem, not a declaration.)

New agile methods: Pods, DARCIs, Slack, “Work OS”

Talking of slack, or, um, Slack, the past 10 many years has also introduced an explosion of innovation in get the job done communications and collaboration goods. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Groups have turn into ubiquitous — together with a complete ecosystem of applications that lengthen and integrate with them. A new technology of do the job management platforms, such as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for entrepreneurs) Workfront, supply increased composition and visibility into elaborate, fast-transferring priorities, initiatives, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Certainly, the Administration category of the martech landscape had the premier percentage growth from 2020 to 2022.

These resources have experienced a major impact on how get the job done receives completed. Quite a few of them embed or allow agile (lowercase “a”) practices. Virtually none of them use the terminology of agile marketing and advertising methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, work-in-progress management, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Great Migration to Distant Get the job done — have effectively killed changed the day-to-day stand-up for most groups.

But it’s not that the fundamental basic principle of stand-ups has absent away. On the contrary, these team communications platforms generally make it less complicated for groups to stay related in the course of the working day in a reasonably low-effects fashion. Difficulties that come up can be addressed quicker than waiting for the upcoming stand-up in a set time window that increasingly fails to align with the schedules of distributed staff associates.

Hey, I’m nonetheless a huge admirer of in-person collaboration, and I concur one thing is misplaced without the need of it. But other things are gained. And for improved and even worse, distant and hybrid teams are the new standard. In this courageous new entire world, Slack and Teams are a far better in good shape than every day stand-ups for several.

And it is not just technological know-how. Management approaches that I think of as “point solutions” for distinct requirements — in contrast to a total suite of tactics, as with official agile marketing and advertising — have been popularized for far better cross-purposeful collaboration (e.g., pods outdoors the context of formal agile) and multi-bash choice-earning (e.g., DARCI models).

The net effect? Marketing and advertising teams are turning out to be a lot more and a lot more agile.

They just really don’t always feel of their procedures as official “agile advertising and marketing.”

From agile advertising to… promoting?

Whatever transpired to electronic marketing? It grew to become marketing.

Not since advertising and marketing became a lot less electronic. Very the reverse. Electronic became so embedded in all the things entrepreneurs were being carrying out that the label of the occupation reverted to the imply: promoting. I’d connect with that a victory for the electronic marketing and advertising motion, not defeat.

Similarly, is agile advertising only becoming… advertising?

Possibly “agile marketing” will restart its development as an specific movement. Or probably it will be changed by some freshly named methodology that is nearer to what DevOps has come to be in the software program improvement profession. Or possibly is just turns into implicit in how fashionable promoting teams run.

Agile is as agile does.

Regardless, I even now believe that there is a substantial possibility for training advertising teams how to ideal harness all these platforms, tactics, and processes. There is never ever been far more need for serving to marketing teams reach peak efficiency by very good teaching, enablement, consulting, and advisory products and services in today’s ecosystem.

Does the identify we call it really matter?

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