Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of data and subjects from just before #MartechDay previously this month — which showcased the 2022 promoting technology landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the major of my listing is the latest State of Agile Marketing and advertising report from AgileSherpas.

As constantly, this is a great, detailed report on how and why agile methodologies are getting applied in marketing and advertising. You can see from the chart earlier mentioned that agile has located its way into a vast wide range of advertising and marketing pursuits: marketing operations, innovative products and services, website operations, social media, marketing, and so on.

It’s even becoming used (30%) in activities advertising, which has very long been the go-to illustration for skeptics: “Oh, agile could never ever function for situations.” (To be fair, in a digital/hybrid event environment, the pacing and adaptability of occasions advertising has increased drastically.)

But as opposed to very last calendar year, when 51% of contributors noted working with agile advertising, this time only 43% did. That is shut to the 42% from 2020. Is agile promoting backsliding?

Of class, the most noticeable disclaimer is the survey sample. Even with 513 entrepreneurs participating in this most recent survey, it is nevertheless a really compact subset of the diverse advertising and marketing universe and no doubt subject to the ebbs and flows of assortment bias.

But however. Right after almost 15 many years of advocacy for agile advertising and marketing, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile internet marketing rules, techniques & labels

The ideas of agile marketing and advertising, even so, appear to be universally accepted as gospel real truth these days. I simply cannot consider of a single marketer I have achieved in the previous various years who has not embraced the values of adaptability, mastering from experimentation, iterative enhancement, cross-team collaboration, larger visibility into perform-in-flight, team empowerment, and so forth.

Internet marketing has turn into an agile job. Total end.

Agile Marketing Practices

Basic agile techniques — these kinds of as sprints, each day standups, kanban boards, and so on. — also appear to have proliferated widely. Even though in lots of conditions, they’ve morphed from their initial variety. We’ll arrive back again to that in a moment, as I assume it’s the twist of write-up-agile.

But the labels? Not so substantially. I quite rarely hear the phrases dash, standup, or kanban in marketing and advertising discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a time period occurs much less regularly than it seemed a couple of a long time in the past.

Agile marketing and advertising vs. agile progress developments

A couple of charts from Google Developments assistance illustrate what is occurring right here. Initially, let us just seem at the expansion of the lookup time period “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart reveals relative research quantity for this expression around the earlier 18 yrs. You can see that it peaked all over 2017. (A yr just after the release of Hacking Advertising and marketing. Coincidence?) Considering the fact that then, it’s experienced fluctations up and down. But it mainly strike a ceiling.

To get a greater perception of how substantially complete research volume there is for agile advertising and marketing, you want to look at it against a further trend. So let us assess it versus its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two issues pop appropriate out. Initial, agile advertising has obtained only a small fraction of the mindshare that agile enhancement ever did. Next, curiosity in agile development has steadily declined given that 2010. It’s around 1/4 of the quantity it was at its peak.

What transpired in 2010? The rise of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

In truth, DevOps became the big that stood on the shoulders of agile advancement. Its recognition has dwarfed agile development, even from its heyday. And compared to those people two, agile marketing would scarcely even sign-up on the scale.

But it is vital to take note that DevOps arose from Agile. To quotation its Wikipedia write-up:

“Agile enhancement teams… could not ‘satisfy the shopper by way of early and continuous supply of valuable software’ unless of course they subsumed the operations / infrastructure tasks affiliated with their applications, numerous of which they automated.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the systems enhancement lifecycle and give steady delivery with significant software package high quality.” What is continuous integration/ongoing deployment (CI/CD) if not the final system for delivering iterative program enhancement?

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

The plummeting expenditures of “shipping” in the cloud

To be distinct, DevOps is not an agile management methodology. It’s not even an “ops” group (in most conditions) like other ops functions, this kind of as promoting ops. Instead, it is a established of procedures, procedures, and know-how that builders use to ship computer software quickly, iteratively, and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes making and deploying software package, but determining what to establish and when even now desires to take place at a degree over that. In idea, agile progress methodologies these as Scrum can supply the framework for these selections. But most dev groups I know don’t explicitly use those methodologies anymore. Most have invented their have system, pulling concepts from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev project management instruments these kinds of as Jira.

My just take: DevOps — and more broadly, the cloud — has significantly lowered the expenses of iteratively producing computer software. Back again in the times when agile methodologies such as Scrum ended up made, the prices and complexities of shipping were significantly bigger. The rigid framework of Scrum was an productive and essential way to deal with that. Now in a excellent DevOps surroundings? Not as essential?

That’s not to say that strategy, preparing, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration expected all-around them aren’t required. They’re as important to results as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as needed?

(Let the flames from ardent agile advocates begin.)

Is there a DevOps equivalent in advertising and marketing?

Advertising ops is a diverse variety of creature that DevOps. For a person, it is a part/crew in the advertising org, somewhat than a practice/system that all entrepreneurs use.

Yet there is some shared DNA. In many methods, advertising and marketing ops teams operate as a DevOps-like enabler for marketers to be able to “ship” advertising promptly, iteratively, and safely. Advertising and marketing ops manages the tech stack and processes to enable that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

However with the increase of far more and much more no-code capabilities throughout martech, marketing and advertising ops is also empowering marketers with extra and extra self-assistance abilities. Just as software program deployment ops got “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into additional developers’ palms with DevOps, a lot more capabilities to execute marketing and advertising — each inside and exterior internet marketing “deployments” — are getting shifted into the fingers of general entrepreneurs.

I don’t know that there is a name for this phenomenon. It’s a kind of democratization of selected aspects of internet marketing ops. (Preferably below the assistance, governance, and guardrails of the specialist advertising ops team.) But it is progressively analogous to DevOps. A lot more men and women can ship extra advertising, quickly, conveniently, and safely and securely.

Just as with computer software, system, setting up, roadmaps, prioritization, crew coordination and collaboration are important to properly harness this distributed electrical power of development. But just as likewise, the expenditures in deploying most forms of advertising have dropped drastically in excess of the past decade. This has created more slack in the marketing production course of action, which has designed rigid agile marketing methodologies… not as essential?

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

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

Speaking of slack, or, um, Slack, the earlier 10 years has also introduced an explosion of innovation in perform communications and collaboration goods. For occasion, Slack and Microsoft Groups have become ubiquitous — together with a entire ecosystem of apps that lengthen and combine with them. A new era of do the job administration platforms, these as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for entrepreneurs) Workfront, present higher structure and visibility into sophisticated, fast-shifting priorities, projects, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Indeed, the Management class of the martech landscape had the most significant share progress from 2020 to 2022.

These resources have experienced a substantial impact on how perform will get completed. Lots of of them embed or permit agile (lowercase “a”) practices. Almost none of them use the terminology of agile advertising and marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, work-in-development management, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Fantastic Migration to Remote Operate — have successfully killed replaced the everyday stand-up for most groups.

But it is not that the fundamental principle of stand-ups has absent away. On the contrary, these crew communications platforms normally make it less complicated for groups to stay connected throughout the day in a comparatively reduced-effects method. Challenges that crop up can be addressed more rapidly than waiting around for the upcoming stand-up in a set time window that significantly fails to align with the schedules of dispersed team members.

Hey, I’m still a large enthusiast of in-individual collaboration, and I agree one thing is missing without the need of it. But other issues are gained. And for improved and worse, distant and hybrid teams are the new standard. In this courageous new world, Slack and Groups are a superior fit than each day stand-ups for a lot of.

And it’s not just technological know-how. Management methods that I think of as “point solutions” for particular wants — in contrast to a complete suite of techniques, as with official agile marketing and advertising — have been popularized for greater cross-practical collaboration (e.g., pods outside the context of official agile) and multi-social gathering determination-producing (e.g., DARCI versions).

The net outcome? Internet marketing teams are turning into much more and far more agile.

They just never automatically assume of their procedures as official “agile advertising.”

From agile marketing and advertising to… internet marketing?

Regardless of what transpired to digital advertising? It grew to become advertising and marketing.

Not simply because promoting grew to become significantly less digital. Pretty the reverse. Digital turned so embedded in almost everything marketers were being performing that the label of the occupation reverted to the mean: advertising and marketing. I’d connect with that a victory for the electronic advertising and marketing motion, not defeat.

In the same way, is agile marketing only becoming… promoting?

It’s possible “agile marketing” will restart its growth as an express movement. Or probably it will be replaced by some recently named methodology that is closer to what DevOps has turn into in the software program improvement occupation. Or maybe is just results in being implicit in how fashionable marketing groups operate.

Agile is as agile does.

Irrespective, I still imagine there is a massive possibility for educating advertising and marketing groups how to very best harness all these platforms, procedures, and processes. There’s hardly ever been a lot more need for helping promoting groups achieve peak general performance via very good coaching, enablement, consulting, and advisory services in today’s natural environment.

Does the title we connect with it really matter?

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