Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of data and topics from before #MartechDay earlier this month — which highlighted the 2022 marketing and advertising technological innovation landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the top of my record is the most recent State of Agile Marketing report from AgileSherpas.

As often, this is a great, thorough report on how and why agile methodologies are staying utilised in advertising and marketing. You can see from the chart above that agile has uncovered its way into a wide wide variety of marketing actions: marketing functions, imaginative providers, site functions, social media, advertising, etc.

It’s even getting applied (30%) in situations marketing and advertising, which has prolonged been the go-to illustration for skeptics: “Oh, agile could under no circumstances function for gatherings.” (To be truthful, in a digital/hybrid occasion environment, the pacing and adaptability of situations promoting has amplified drastically.)

But not like last 12 months, when 51% of individuals documented applying agile internet marketing, this time only 43% did. Which is close to the 42% from 2020. Is agile advertising backsliding?

Of study course, the most evident disclaimer is the survey sample. Even with 513 entrepreneurs collaborating in this most recent survey, it’s even now a really small subset of the diverse marketing and advertising universe and no question issue to the ebbs and flows of variety bias.

But even now. Soon after almost 15 yrs of advocacy for agile internet marketing, the momentum of this motion seems… stalled?

Agile internet marketing concepts, procedures & labels

The rules of agile marketing and advertising, having said that, appear to be universally accepted as gospel truth these days. I can’t believe of a one marketer I’ve fulfilled in the earlier several several years who hasn’t embraced the values of adaptability, learning from experimentation, iterative improvement, cross-group collaboration, increased visibility into function-in-flight, workforce empowerment, etcetera.

Marketing has develop into an agile occupation. Full halt.

Agile Marketing Practices

Traditional agile practices — these types of as sprints, every day standups, kanban boards, and so on. — also look to have proliferated commonly. While in many circumstances, they’ve morphed from their authentic variety. We’ll come again to that in a minute, as I believe it’s the twist of put up-agile.

But the labels? Not so significantly. I very hardly ever listen to the phrases sprint, standup, or kanban in promoting conversations. Even “agile marketing” as a phrase arises a lot less commonly than it appeared a pair of decades back.

Agile marketing and advertising vs. agile improvement developments

A couple of charts from Google Trends assistance illustrate what’s happening here. Very first, let us just look at the advancement of the lookup term “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart displays relative lookup volume for this expression about the previous 18 years. You can see that it peaked all around 2017. (A calendar year immediately after the launch of Hacking Marketing and advertising. Coincidence?) Considering the fact that then, it’s experienced fluctations up and down. But it mainly strike a ceiling.

To get a superior sense of how a lot absolute search quantity there is for agile marketing and advertising, you need to evaluate it against yet another trend. So let us examine it towards its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two factors pop proper out. Very first, agile promoting has obtained only a little portion of the mindshare that agile advancement ever did. Next, curiosity in agile enhancement has steadily declined since 2010. It’s all around 1/4 of the quantity it was at its peak.

What transpired in 2010? The increase of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

Without a doubt, DevOps became the giant that stood on the shoulders of agile development. Its popularity has dwarfed agile progress, even from its heyday. And compared to individuals two, agile marketing and advertising would barely even sign up on the scale.

But it’s important to be aware that DevOps arose from Agile. To quotation its Wikipedia post:

“Agile progress teams… could not ‘satisfy the client via early and continuous shipping of worthwhile software’ except they subsumed the functions / infrastructure tasks affiliated with their programs, quite a few of which they automatic.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the techniques development lifecycle and offer continual shipping and delivery with superior software package excellent.” What is ongoing integration/ongoing deployment (CI/CD) if not the best system for providing iterative software package progress?

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

The plummeting costs of “shipping” in the cloud

To be crystal clear, DevOps is not an agile administration methodology. It is not even an “ops” team (in most cases) like other ops capabilities, this sort of as internet marketing ops. Rather, it’s a established of practices, processes, and technology that builders use to ship computer software speedily, iteratively, and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes setting up and deploying application, but selecting what to create and when nonetheless wants to transpire at a level higher than that. In idea, agile growth methodologies such as Scrum can deliver the framework for all those selections. But most dev groups I know do not explicitly use these methodologies anymore. Most have invented their have course of action, pulling ideas from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev challenge administration instruments this kind of as Jira.

My acquire: DevOps — and much more broadly, the cloud — has drastically diminished the charges of iteratively developing software. Again in the times when agile methodologies these as Scrum were developed, the charges and complexities of transport were being a great deal bigger. The rigid structure of Scrum was an efficient and required way to manage that. These days in a superior DevOps setting? Not as necessary?

Which is not to say that method, organizing, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration expected all around them aren’t vital. They’re as vital to good results as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as important?

(Permit the flames from ardent agile advocates commence.)

Is there a DevOps equal in marketing?

Internet marketing ops is a diverse type of creature that DevOps. For a single, it is a role/staff in just the internet marketing org, somewhat than a apply/system that all marketers use.

But there is some shared DNA. In numerous ways, advertising ops groups perform as a DevOps-like enabler for marketers to be equipped to “ship” marketing and advertising promptly, iteratively, and properly. Internet marketing ops manages the tech stack and processes to allow that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

Still with the increase of much more and far more no-code capabilities across martech, advertising and marketing ops is also empowering marketers with a lot more and a lot more self-assistance abilities. Just as software package deployment ops acquired “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into a lot more developers’ hands with DevOps, far more abilities to execute internet marketing — each internal and exterior internet marketing “deployments” — are remaining shifted into the palms of typical entrepreneurs.

I do not know that there is a name for this phenomenon. It’s a sort of democratization of certain aspects of advertising ops. (Preferably underneath the advice, governance, and guardrails of the pro advertising ops workforce.) But it is ever more analogous to DevOps. More people can ship far more advertising and marketing, swiftly, conveniently, and securely.

Just as with software, technique, scheduling, roadmaps, prioritization, group coordination and collaboration are important to correctly harness this distributed electricity of creation. But just as likewise, the charges in deploying most forms of advertising have dropped considerably about the previous ten years. This has produced extra slack in the internet marketing output system, which has made rigid agile internet marketing methodologies… not as necessary?

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

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

Speaking of slack, or, um, Slack, the previous 10 yrs has also brought an explosion of innovation in operate communications and collaboration items. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Groups have develop into ubiquitous — along with a total ecosystem of apps that extend and integrate with them. A new generation of work management platforms, these types of as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for entrepreneurs) Workfront, supply increased composition and visibility into sophisticated, quick-going priorities, jobs, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

In fact, the Administration class of the martech landscape experienced the greatest proportion expansion from 2020 to 2022.

These applications have had a significant effect on how operate will get accomplished. Many of them embed or empower agile (lowercase “a”) procedures. Just about none of them use the terminology of agile advertising methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, perform-in-progress management, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

In the meantime, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Excellent Migration to Distant Do the job — have properly killed changed the daily stand-up for most groups.

But it’s not that the underlying principle of stand-ups has absent absent. On the contrary, these workforce communications platforms normally make it much easier for groups to keep linked during the day in a relatively lower-impression fashion. Concerns that occur can be tackled more rapidly than ready for the next stand-up in a set time window that increasingly fails to align with the schedules of distributed group users.

Hey, I’m nevertheless a huge admirer of in-particular person collaboration, and I agree a thing is shed without it. But other factors are received. And for improved and worse, distant and hybrid groups are the new ordinary. In this brave new entire world, Slack and Groups are a improved fit than day by day stand-ups for lots of.

And it is not just technological innovation. Administration procedures that I believe of as “point solutions” for precise requires — in distinction to a entire suite of practices, as with official agile marketing and advertising — have been popularized for greater cross-functional collaboration (e.g., pods outdoors the context of official agile) and multi-occasion final decision-creating (e.g., DARCI styles).

The net outcome? Promoting teams are getting more and extra agile.

They just do not necessarily assume of their tactics as official “agile internet marketing.”

From agile promoting to… internet marketing?

What ever occurred to digital promoting? It turned advertising.

Not because promoting turned much less electronic. Quite the reverse. Electronic became so embedded in almost everything entrepreneurs ended up doing that the label of the career reverted to the mean: internet marketing. I’d contact that a victory for the digital internet marketing movement, not defeat.

Equally, is agile advertising and marketing simply becoming… advertising?

Perhaps “agile marketing” will restart its progress as an express motion. Or probably it will be changed by some freshly named methodology that is nearer to what DevOps has turn into in the computer software enhancement career. Or it’s possible is just gets to be implicit in how modern advertising groups operate.

Agile is as agile does.

No matter, I even now consider there is a substantial opportunity for educating advertising and marketing teams how to finest harness all these platforms, methods, and processes. There is in no way been a lot more desire for supporting marketing and advertising teams obtain peak functionality as a result of fantastic teaching, enablement, consulting, and advisory services in today’s atmosphere.

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