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The Power of Collaboration: Letter from President Marni Clippinger

In 2015, we embarked on a strategic review in an effort to better understand where MSI fits in the universe of similar organizations, what sets us apart, and how to make the MSI relationship even more valuable for our corporate and academic members.

We conducted many interviews, with current members, past members, prospective members, and with academics who knew MSI well and some who didn’t. What we heard again and again was that MSI occupies a very special place for those who have come to know us. There really isn’t another organization that does what we do, especially in the way that we do it.

You—our members—make time for MSI. Many of you told us that if you can go to only one conference a year, it will be an MSI gathering. When asked why, the answer was invariably some version of: “Because being involved with MSI makes me a smarter marketer.”

Over my many years with this organization, I have seen a kind of magic happen at meetings. People come together, share their perspectives, problems, and experiences, and come away energized, enlightened, and excited. It has been described as “finding one’s lost tribe” and “turning on a light that no one knew was there.” It can be truly electric.

I have seen a kind of magic happen at meetings. People come together, share their perspectives, and come away energized, enlightened, and excited.

MSI provides an oasis where members can step back from the day to day and think about business issues with a little distance. People are under such constant pressure to respond to daily demands and deliver short-term results that they rarely have time to think about broader or longer-term issues. MSI was founded on the belief that this ability to step back is good for businesses. It broadens horizons, and people are able to make better decisions as a result.

The loyalty of our academic and business members is a precious resource to MSI, and as we make plans for 2017 and beyond, we want to build on that goodwill. At the end of our year-long review, we outlined three strategic goals that incorporate what we heard and that are already guiding how we are investing our time and resources:

  • Engage the next generation of academics and practitioners
  • “Move the needle” on significant marketing problems
  • Deliver and communicate unique/differentiated value

We are moving ahead on all fronts: Our Immersion conference (which introduces rising marketing stars to academic theory) and Young Scholars program (which brings together many of the best young marketing academics to share their research) are shining examples of how MSI is helping to nurture the next generation of marketing leaders and scholars. Now in its ninth year, Immersion 2016 was the largest group yet, and received rave reviews. And the recently-selected 2017 class of Young Scholars is, as always, a brilliant group of young academics who will shape the future of the field.

One of the most effective ways that MSI has been able to help move the needle on marketing issues has been through collaborative business/academic research. With that in mind, in May, we convened a taskforce of six member companies and an equal number of leading scholars to develop a research agenda and potential collaborations on “Understanding Digitized Consumers in Digitized Environments.” The taskforce has issued a white paper, and a number of collaborative projects are taking shape. We plan to extend this model into other areas of inquiry in 2017.

Sometimes, as at our Internet of Things conference in September, our aim is to move the needle in a truly nascent area. What will the growing convergence of connected people, objects, and networks mean for marketing? As the answers unfold in real time, MSI will continue to seed a stream of research that may be critical to marketing’s future.

In our biennial research-priority-setting process, we ask you as MSI members to invest time to help determine which areas of marketing are most in need of MSI resources. We are now focusing on communicating the fruits of your investment back to you. This is what motivated our “Frontiers of Marketing” initiative in which leading academics offered comprehensive views of what we have learned in seven key areas of marketing. This effort culminates this month with the publication of a special AMA/MSI issue of Journal of Marketing which we are pleased to make available to our members.

Our members understand that having access to new ideas, tools, and frameworks—and a powerful network of like-minded people—is a necessity.

Finally, we learned through our strategic review that the MSI “seal of approval” is seen as a reliable navigator in a sea of marketing information. Building on this, we are developing new ways to make our content more succinct, accessible, relevant, and useful. Stay tuned for webinars, conference highlights, and videos that help bring knowledge to light in new ways.

These are challenging times for marketers and marketing. We believe that MSI’s 55-year-old mission—to develop and apply academic thinking and empirical findings to marketing practice—is even more important today than it was in 1961. Our members understand that having access to new ideas, tools, and frameworks—and a powerful network of like-minded people—is a necessity for those who want to stay at the leading edge of marketing knowledge and practice.

We thank you, our members, for your participation in MSI: a wonderful community of intellectually-curious practitioners and practically-minded academics, committed to advancing the field of marketing.

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