Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of knowledge and subject areas from prior to #MartechDay earlier this month — which featured the 2022 advertising technology landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the leading of my listing is the hottest Condition of Agile Promoting report from AgileSherpas.

As generally, this is a terrific, comprehensive report on how and why agile methodologies are currently being applied in marketing. You can see from the chart over that agile has uncovered its way into a vast variety of marketing and advertising functions: internet marketing operations, innovative solutions, web-site functions, social media, promotion, etc.

It is even becoming applied (30%) in gatherings advertising and marketing, which has extensive been the go-to example for skeptics: “Oh, agile could in no way operate for functions.” (To be honest, in a digital/hybrid party world, the pacing and adaptability of functions advertising and marketing has amplified drastically.)

But as opposed to past yr, when 51% of contributors reported utilizing agile marketing, this time only 43% did. Which is near to the 42% from 2020. Is agile marketing backsliding?

Of program, the most evident disclaimer is the study sample. Even with 513 marketers collaborating in this newest survey, it is continue to a quite modest subset of the various internet marketing universe and no question subject to the ebbs and flows of collection bias.

But nonetheless. Right after approximately 15 years of advocacy for agile advertising, the momentum of this motion seems… stalled?

Agile internet marketing rules, methods & labels

The concepts of agile promoting, even so, appear to be to be universally acknowledged as gospel real truth these times. I just can’t feel of a one marketer I have met in the earlier many many years who hasn’t embraced the values of adaptability, finding out from experimentation, iterative enhancement, cross-group collaboration, greater visibility into perform-in-flight, workforce empowerment, and many others.

Advertising has turn into an agile occupation. Whole halt.

Agile Marketing Practices

Traditional agile practices — these as sprints, day-to-day standups, kanban boards, etc. — also seem to be to have proliferated extensively. While in several scenarios, they’ve morphed from their first sort. We’ll arrive back to that in a minute, as I consider it’s the twist of write-up-agile.

But the labels? Not so a great deal. I incredibly almost never listen to the phrases dash, standup, or kanban in advertising discussions. Even “agile marketing” as a expression occurs less routinely than it appeared a few of several years back.

Agile internet marketing vs. agile development tendencies

A few of charts from Google Trends assistance illustrate what is occurring listed here. 1st, let’s just seem at the expansion of the lookup term “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart shows relative lookup volume for this term over the earlier 18 decades. You can see that it peaked around 2017. (A yr following the launch of Hacking Internet marketing. Coincidence?) Since then, it’s had fluctations up and down. But it mostly hit a ceiling.

To get a far better perception of how much complete look for quantity there is for agile advertising and marketing, you need to have to assess it against an additional trend. So let’s look at it towards its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two factors pop appropriate out. First, agile advertising and marketing has reached only a little portion of the mindshare that agile enhancement ever did. Next, interest in agile improvement has steadily declined since 2010. It is around 1/4 of the volume it was at its peak.

What transpired in 2010? The increase of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

Certainly, DevOps turned the giant that stood on the shoulders of agile advancement. Its recognition has dwarfed agile growth, even from its heyday. And as opposed to those people two, agile marketing and advertising would scarcely even register on the scale.

But it is critical to be aware that DevOps arose from Agile. To quotation its Wikipedia article:

“Agile development teams… couldn’t ‘satisfy the customer as a result of early and continuous delivery of precious software’ except they subsumed the operations / infrastructure duties connected with their programs, many of which they automatic.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the systems advancement lifecycle and provide ongoing shipping with higher program high quality.” What is ongoing integration/steady deployment (CI/CD) if not the supreme system for providing iterative program growth?

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

The plummeting prices of “shipping” in the cloud

To be crystal clear, DevOps is not an agile management methodology. It is not even an “ops” staff (in most circumstances) like other ops features, this sort of as advertising and marketing ops. Rather, it’s a established of procedures, procedures, and technology that builders use to ship software package immediately, iteratively, and safely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes building and deploying software program, but determining what to make and when nevertheless desires to occur at a level above that. In theory, agile improvement methodologies this kind of as Scrum can provide the framework for individuals choices. But most dev groups I know never explicitly use those methodologies any more. Most have invented their possess course of action, pulling concepts from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev job management resources this sort of as Jira.

My get: DevOps — and extra broadly, the cloud — has radically reduced the costs of iteratively producing program. Back again in the times when agile methodologies such as Scrum were developed, the prices and complexities of shipping were considerably increased. The rigid composition of Scrum was an efficient and needed way to deal with that. Today in a great DevOps environment? Not as needed?

That’s not to say that tactic, planning, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration necessary about them are not vital. They are as critical to accomplishment as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative release cycles? Not as required?

(Permit the flames from ardent agile advocates begin.)

Is there a DevOps equivalent in marketing and advertising?

Advertising ops is a different type of creature that DevOps. For a person, it is a part/staff in the marketing and advertising org, somewhat than a apply/method that all marketers use.

But there is some shared DNA. In quite a few approaches, internet marketing ops teams operate as a DevOps-like enabler for entrepreneurs to be able to “ship” advertising and marketing immediately, iteratively, and securely. Advertising and marketing ops manages the tech stack and processes to permit that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

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

I don’t know that there is a name for this phenomenon. It is a form of democratization of certain aspects of marketing and advertising ops. (Ideally below the advice, governance, and guardrails of the qualified advertising and marketing ops workforce.) But it is significantly analogous to DevOps. Extra persons can ship more internet marketing, quickly, simply, and properly.

Just as with software package, method, scheduling, roadmaps, prioritization, team coordination and collaboration are crucial to proficiently harness this dispersed energy of development. But just as similarly, the costs in deploying most sorts of internet marketing have dropped radically around the past decade. This has produced more slack in the internet marketing creation system, which has built rigid agile advertising and marketing methodologies… not as needed?

(Actually posed as a query, not a declaration.)

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

Speaking of slack, or, um, Slack, the previous 10 years has also brought an explosion of innovation in operate communications and collaboration merchandise. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Teams have turn into ubiquitous — together with a complete ecosystem of applications that lengthen and combine with them. A new generation of do the job administration platforms, this kind of as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for marketers) Workfront, supply greater structure and visibility into advanced, rapid-transferring priorities, projects, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

Without a doubt, the Administration category of the martech landscape experienced the greatest percentage progress from 2020 to 2022.

These resources have had a important impact on how operate gets completed. Many of them embed or enable agile (lowercase “a”) methods. Nearly none of them use the terminology of agile advertising and marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, function-in-development administration, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

In the meantime, I’d say that Slack and Groups — accelerated by the Great Migration to Remote Do the job — have correctly killed changed the day by day stand-up for most teams.

But it’s not that the underlying basic principle of stand-ups has gone away. On the opposite, these crew communications platforms normally make it simpler for teams to remain connected all over the day in a fairly reduced-impact method. Troubles that come up can be resolved faster than waiting for the up coming stand-up in a fixed time window that more and more fails to align with the schedules of dispersed staff customers.

Hey, I’m even now a substantial fan of in-individual collaboration, and I concur a little something is shed without the need of it. But other factors are acquired. And for much better and even worse, remote and hybrid teams are the new ordinary. In this courageous new world, Slack and Groups are a better suit than everyday stand-ups for several.

And it is not just technologies. Management strategies that I believe of as “point solutions” for unique desires — in contrast to a entire suite of procedures, as with official agile advertising and marketing — have been popularized for greater cross-purposeful collaboration (e.g., pods outside the house the context of official agile) and multi-bash choice-earning (e.g., DARCI styles).

The internet result? Marketing groups are becoming much more and much more agile.

They just really do not essentially consider of their practices as official “agile marketing.”

From agile marketing to… marketing?

No matter what happened to digital marketing? It grew to become promoting.

Not mainly because internet marketing turned fewer electronic. Rather the opposite. Electronic became so embedded in all the things entrepreneurs were undertaking that the label of the profession reverted to the mean: advertising. I’d connect with that a victory for the electronic advertising motion, not defeat.

Likewise, is agile marketing and advertising merely becoming… marketing and advertising?

Probably “agile marketing” will restart its growth as an specific motion. Or maybe it will be replaced by some newly named methodology that is closer to what DevOps has grow to be in the software package growth job. Or probably is just will become implicit in how contemporary promoting teams operate.

Agile is as agile does.

Irrespective, I nevertheless consider there is a substantial prospect for educating advertising teams how to best harness all these platforms, procedures, and processes. There’s never ever been additional need for supporting promoting teams accomplish peak general performance by way of superior training, enablement, consulting, and advisory companies in today’s ecosystem.

Does the name we contact it genuinely make a difference?

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