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SAP’s CMO on What 5G Means to Marketers

Q&A with Alicia Tillman on Data Opportunities and Privacy Concerns

Though US adoption of 5G is still in its early days and consumer knowledge of the technology is lagging compared with other countries, industry professionals are already anticipating what opportunities the wireless tech will bring.

According to data from Infosys published in October 2019, executives worldwide were looking to use 5G for connected cars, security, emergency services, healthcare and various other applications.

For marketers in particular, what’s enticing is 5G’s capability to collect massive amounts of data, which will ultimately help enhance targeting and personalization, according to Alicia Tillman, CMO of multinational software company SAP. We spoke with the executive about what marketers should take advantage of once the tech becomes more widely available, and what to stay mindful of as 5G adoption takes off. This conversation has been edited for clarity.

What opportunities do you think 5G will bring to marketers?

As 5G networks continue to make their way across the US, we have an incredible opportunity as marketers to take advantage of the technology. It will help improve how we target, how we personalize. And it will really help marketers as they look to evolve brands into the space of experience management.

When we talk about the use of data in marketing, we often talk about the art and the science that exists in marketing to be able to drive business success. The more data that exists, the more access you have to it. The more you have the ability to derive intelligence from data, ultimately, it’s going to enable you to create better experiences for customers.

What do marketers have to be mindful of with so much data?

We live in this period where a lot of brands have abused their customers' data. Any time there's more data that we have access to, the inherent risk of eroding trust if that data is misused increases. The reality is that we live in a period where there's a tremendous trust deficit, and this came about before 5G had even taken shape. With the introduction of 5G and the wider scope of data being generated, there is an even bigger risk of that trust being compromised.

This is a responsibility that we need to keep in mind. On one hand, let's think about how to use data to the advantage of the customer, but let's also remember that governance and transparency around data must be established to ensure that we're using it most effectively—and based on what the consumers are asking.

Do you think consumers would want those personalized experiences that 5G could potentially bring?

We live in an experience economy. So, there is a tremendous gap between what consumers expect from the brands that they interact with in the form of experiences and what they're actually getting.

With advanced technology like 5G, its performance and what it enables present this incredibly dynamic opportunity. I think that if consumers were to ask themselves, "What do I want more from the companies I'm purchasing from?" they'd find that they're looking for better experiences. They want improvements to products, services, people and brands.

Those who are keeping a close watch on 5G and understanding its potential are hearing that if it can improve the customer experience, then that's priority No. 1 for consumers.