Have we entered a post-agile marketing age?

Agile Marketing Activities

Catching up on my backlog of info and matters from right before #MartechDay previously this month — which highlighted the 2022 promoting technological innovation landscape and the 2022 Stackies — the leading of my record is the most recent Condition of Agile Advertising report from AgileSherpas.

As normally, this is a fantastic, complete report on how and why agile methodologies are becoming made use of in marketing and advertising. You can see from the chart higher than that agile has uncovered its way into a huge range of marketing and advertising routines: advertising operations, imaginative solutions, web-site operations, social media, promoting, and many others.

It is even currently being used (30%) in functions marketing and advertising, which has very long been the go-to case in point for skeptics: “Oh, agile could hardly ever operate for activities.” (To be truthful, in a digital/hybrid celebration world, the pacing and adaptability of functions internet marketing has elevated substantially.)

But compared with very last calendar year, when 51% of contributors claimed utilizing agile marketing, this time only 43% did. That’s shut to the 42% from 2020. Is agile advertising and marketing backsliding?

Of course, the most noticeable disclaimer is the survey sample. Even with 513 marketers taking part in this most current study, it’s still a incredibly compact subset of the various marketing universe and no doubt matter to the ebbs and flows of range bias.

But continue to. After practically 15 many years of advocacy for agile advertising, the momentum of this movement seems… stalled?

Agile marketing rules, procedures & labels

The concepts of agile marketing and advertising, nonetheless, feel to be universally accepted as gospel reality these times. I just can’t assume of a single marketer I’ve achieved in the previous a number of decades who hasn’t embraced the values of adaptability, learning from experimentation, iterative improvement, cross-crew collaboration, greater visibility into function-in-flight, workforce empowerment, etcetera.

Advertising has become an agile profession. Complete end.

Agile Marketing Practices

Typical agile techniques — these kinds of as sprints, daily standups, kanban boards, and so forth. — also seem to have proliferated commonly. Even though in several circumstances, they’ve morphed from their authentic sort. 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 considerably. I quite hardly ever hear the conditions dash, standup, or kanban in promoting conversations. Even “agile marketing” as a term occurs a lot less routinely than it seemed a couple of a long time in the past.

Agile promoting vs. agile improvement trends

A few of charts from Google Developments enable illustrate what is taking place here. Initial, let us just glance at the progress of the lookup expression “agile marketing”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing

The chart exhibits relative look for quantity for this time period above the past 18 many years. You can see that it peaked close to 2017. (A year soon after the release of Hacking Promoting. Coincidence?) Because then, it’s had fluctations up and down. But it largely hit a ceiling.

To get a superior perception of how considerably absolute lookup volume there is for agile marketing and advertising, you need to evaluate it towards one more pattern. So let’s look at it in opposition to its progenitor, “agile development”:

Google Trends: Agile Marketing vs. Agile Development

Two issues pop right out. 1st, agile marketing and advertising has reached only a small fraction of the mindshare that agile advancement ever did. Next, fascination in agile improvement has steadily declined because 2010. It is about 1/4 of the quantity it was at its peak.

What took place in 2010? The increase of DevOps.

Google Trends: Agile Development vs. DevOps

In fact, DevOps grew to become the giant that stood on the shoulders of agile growth. Its acceptance has dwarfed agile growth, even from its heyday. And as opposed to those two, agile advertising would hardly even sign-up on the scale.

But it is critical to notice that DevOps arose from Agile. To quotation its Wikipedia posting:

“Agile progress teams… couldn’t ‘satisfy the shopper by way of early and constant delivery of precious software’ except if they subsumed the operations / infrastructure obligations related with their programs, numerous of which they automated.”

DevOps “aims to shorten the programs improvement lifecycle and deliver constant delivery with superior software high quality.” What is continual integration/steady deployment (CI/CD) if not the top mechanism for delivering iterative program development?

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

The plummeting charges of “shipping” in the cloud

To be very clear, DevOps is not an agile administration methodology. It’s not even an “ops” crew (in most scenarios) like other ops features, this kind of as marketing ops. Instead, it is a set of practices, processes, and technology that builders use to ship computer software rapidly, iteratively, and safely and securely. It leverages a ton of automation and instrumentation.

DevOps optimizes building and deploying software package, but deciding what to build and when even now desires to transpire at a stage higher than that. In theory, agile development methodologies these types of as Scrum can give the framework for people conclusions. But most dev teams I know don’t explicitly use individuals methodologies any more. Most have invented their own approach, pulling ideas from agile methodologies and adapting them and leveraging dev challenge management applications such as Jira.

My just take: DevOps — and extra broadly, the cloud — has significantly minimized the charges of iteratively creating software program. Back in the times when agile methodologies these types of as Scrum have been produced, the charges and complexities of shipping and delivery have been a lot larger. The rigid structure of Scrum was an helpful and vital way to control that. These days in a great DevOps ecosystem? Not as required?

Which is not to say that approach, organizing, roadmaps, prioritization, and all the coordination and collaboration necessary around them are not essential. They’re as critical to achievements as ever. But the rigidity of Scrum in translating that into iterative launch cycles? Not as essential?

(Permit the flames from ardent agile advocates commence.)

Is there a DevOps equal in promoting?

Promoting ops is a diverse variety of creature that DevOps. For a person, it is a function/crew within the advertising and marketing org, rather than a practice/method that all marketers use.

However there is some shared DNA. In many means, advertising ops teams perform as a DevOps-like enabler for marketers to be able to “ship” internet marketing quickly, iteratively, and securely. Marketing and advertising ops manages the tech stack and processes to enable that — through a ton of automation and instrumentation.

Yet with the increase of a lot more and far more no-code capabilities across martech, advertising and marketing ops is also empowering entrepreneurs with extra and extra self-provider capabilities. Just as software package deployment ops bought “shifted left” (i.e., moved upstream) into a lot more developers’ palms with DevOps, additional abilities to execute internet marketing — both of those inner and exterior advertising “deployments” — are becoming shifted into the hands of general marketers.

I really do not know that there is a title for this phenomenon. It is a variety of democratization of sure facets of advertising and marketing ops. (Ideally underneath the guidance, governance, and guardrails of the qualified advertising and marketing ops team.) But it is progressively analogous to DevOps. A lot more persons can ship more advertising, swiftly, conveniently, and safely.

Just as with software program, method, planning, roadmaps, prioritization, group coordination and collaboration are critical to effectively harness this distributed electrical power of generation. But just as similarly, the charges in deploying most forms of advertising and marketing have dropped dramatically over the past ten years. This has designed far more slack in the promoting output process, which has produced rigid agile advertising and marketing methodologies… not as needed?

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

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

Talking of slack, or, um, Slack, the previous 10 a long time has also introduced an explosion of innovation in operate communications and collaboration solutions. For instance, Slack and Microsoft Teams have become ubiquitous — together with a complete ecosystem of applications that lengthen and combine with them. A new era of work management platforms, these kinds of as Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, and (for marketers) Workfront, give better composition and visibility into advanced, speedy-relocating priorities, assignments, and workflows.

Growth in Management Category of Martech Landscape, 2020-2022

In truth, the Administration category of the martech landscape experienced the biggest share development from 2020 to 2022.

These equipment have experienced a sizeable impression on how work receives completed. A lot of of them embed or permit agile (lowercase “a”) procedures. Virtually none of them use the terminology of agile advertising and marketing methodologies. But the essence of agile is there: transparency, prioritization, accountability, do the job-in-progress administration, identification of blockers and bottlenecks.

In the meantime, I’d say that Slack and Teams — accelerated by the Terrific Migration to Distant Operate — have effectively killed changed the daily stand-up for most groups.

But it is not that the underlying principle of stand-ups has long gone away. On the contrary, these staff communications platforms commonly make it less difficult for groups to stay connected throughout the working day in a rather very low-effect manner. Difficulties that arise can be tackled quicker than waiting for the up coming stand-up in a preset time window that increasingly fails to align with the schedules of distributed group members.

Hey, I’m even now a huge enthusiast of in-particular person collaboration, and I agree a thing is missing without the need of it. But other matters are received. And for far better and even worse, distant and hybrid groups are the new ordinary. In this brave new globe, Slack and Groups are a better in shape than every day stand-ups for quite a few.

And it is not just technology. Administration procedures that I feel of as “point solutions” for particular needs — in distinction to a entire suite of methods, as with official agile advertising and marketing — have been popularized for far better cross-purposeful collaboration (e.g., pods outside the context of formal agile) and multi-party conclusion-making (e.g., DARCI designs).

The web result? Promoting teams are getting to be a lot more and far more agile.

They just really don’t essentially imagine of their tactics as official “agile promoting.”

From agile marketing to… marketing?

Regardless of what took place to digital marketing? It turned marketing.

Not for the reason that marketing became considerably less digital. Fairly the opposite. Digital grew to become so embedded in everything marketers have been carrying out that the label of the job reverted to the signify: marketing and advertising. I’d call that a victory for the electronic internet marketing movement, not defeat.

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

Maybe “agile marketing” will restart its growth as an specific motion. Or perhaps it will be changed by some recently named methodology that is closer to what DevOps has grow to be in the software program progress career. Or maybe is just turns into implicit in how contemporary internet marketing teams operate.

Agile is as agile does.

Regardless, I however imagine there is a substantial prospect for training marketing teams how to greatest harness all these platforms, tactics, and procedures. There is in no way been a lot more need for aiding advertising and marketing teams accomplish peak general performance by great coaching, enablement, consulting, and advisory providers in today’s ecosystem.

Does the identify we get in touch with it actually make any difference?

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