Microsoft CMO Scott Allen on the trends shaping the future of content marketing
By Alistair Norman

Microsoft CMO Scott Allen on the trends shaping the future of content marketing

“Transformation is the new norm — it’s about more than data and digital,” says Scott Allen, CMO of Microsoft.

Your customers have fallen in love with tech, but that doesn’t mean you should rush to deploy more yourself. Successful transformation boils down to people, process and tools. Scott Allen, CMO of Microsoft shares his experiences.

As a leading tech company, Microsoft and its CMO Scott Allen are at the heart of transformation. He knew that the business had to engage a generation who, as he puts it, “could pinch and zoom before they could crawl”.

He had to find new ways to reach an ever-changing audience over various platforms, but that also meant looking at three key areas: people, processes, and tools. “If one of these things is missing from your transformation, it won’t work,” he said.

When it comes to communicating with these audiences, it’s all about the fit. Marketing needs to be customized, snappy, and most important for younger generations, socially meaningful. So how can marketers engage with this new powerful consumer base?

What’s your crucial rule for transformation?

You have to think about how to transform people,
not just tech and processes.

How to transform from the inside-out


Scott focused on millennials and Generation Z, as employees as well as customers.

He responded to their values such as a need for diversity and inclusion, maximizing every person’s contribution, whatever their stakeholder type. Internally, Scott invested in analytical heads who became data interpreters, providing Scott with analytics in a marketing language he could use and understand.


Although he warns of a fine line “between being personal and being creepy”, individualized marketing was at the heart of his transformation. To do this, he employed one-to-one ABM marketing and leveraged analytics to create personalized messaging.

The transformation also focused on brand safety and sensitivity. Beyond just making sure its adverts aren’t showing up on undesirable sites, the company is now a lot smarter about who they work with and if they’re aligned with their values.


New technology means you can test your marketing quickly and get fast results. Marketing analytics tools became the muscle (not the motivator) of Scott’s operations. In particular, his team used Microsoft Power BI to gain insight into customers and future decisions. This created a new way of thinking, allowing the team to spend its money more effectively and target specific groups of customers.

What’s exciting you about marketing right now?

The investment in the human alongside the machine.

Tips for success: How to transform your people

Employees are encouraged to put ‘growth mindset time’ in their calendar, setting aside time to think, collaborate, go for a run, or simply come to work a bit later.

Introducing workplace chat, Microsoft Team,  helped collaboration between employees and has reduced email by 50%. This has freed up employees’ time to work on more strategic-level thinking.

“We’re not measuring our employees on the number of hours a week they work, it’s about the impact they have,” says Scott.

What does the future look like for marketing?

By 2020, the volume of data will reach nearly 50 zettabytes – that’s 20,000 times the total amount of data that existed in the world less than three decades before.

How to start a digital revolution

  1. Talk to staff about the outcomes of the transformation and what they will achieve.
  2. Don’t try to do too many things at once.
  3. Focus on data. In five years’ time it will be all about the cloud.
  4. Be open-minded, involved, and bold.
  5. Test and learn should be part of your DNA.

Want to find out what other marketing leaders think about the future of content? Read The Future of Content Marketing: 10 interviews with leading CMOs on the trends they’re using to disrupt the market.

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