The marketing technology (MarTech) landscape is evolving at an alarming rate as breakthroughs like AI, IOT and personalization at scale become yesterday’s news. Innovation and capitalism is at the forefront of technology growth and there will always be bigger, better and faster options.
CEOs who embrace a deliberate approach and maintain a customer focus to their technology investments and adoption will emerge as leaders in their respective industries. These CEOs are strategically positioning their organizations for long term growth in today’s tumultuous global economy.
The MarTech landscape has exploded over the last five years. According to Chief Marketing Technologist blog author Scott Brinker, there are now over 5,000 vendors in 100 different categories. Marketing technology enables companies to become customer-centric and connect with the customer at all phases of the lifecycle. It scales the sales and marketing organization while providing key insights into real customer needs. This in turn drives customer value creation and profitability.
“Buying more technology does not help marketing teams scale if equal investments are not made in process optimization, resource allocation and skill development.”
CEOs can gain competitive advantage for their organizations by approving MarTech budgets, but they must also hire the right people to select, adopt and apply these technologies to achieve ROI. More is definitely not better.
According to analyst firm Gartner, marketing departments are now managing a higher technology budget than their counterparts in IT across multiple industries. Gartner has predicted CMOs will outspend CIOs on IT in 2017, citing MarTech as directly responsible. Instead of trying to keep up with an ever-growing arms race, executives should take a more pragmatic approach.
Buying more technology does not help marketing teams scale if equal investments are not made in process optimization, resource allocation and skill development. Many companies are falling short in this area, as there is an expectation that a marketing resource can be more productive because they are now using technology. This is a misnomer. What is happening is that companies buy the technologies, but fail to invest in people to run them or improve processes.
So a person managing one set of responsibilities two years ago now has multiple sets and is trying to manage multiple technology stacks. They actually become less productive, and marketing teams become less efficient and effective.
There are three main systems around which marketing teams should build their architecture: CRM, marketing automation and content management. The enterprise should consolidate down to single systems for each and fully integrate them. From here, each company should evaluate the customer lifecycle and determine how they want to engage from initial acquisition through onboarding, adoption, loyalty and advocacy.
What activities should sales, marketing, service and IT participate in at each point to align with the customer? What outcomes and KPIs need to be measured? Answers to these questions will guide the technology selection process so marketing operations leaders can deliver against those objectives and integrate back in with the company’s core stack.
As marketers evaluate how to align with the needs of customers from a technology perspective, they must determine if the right customer data exists in the existing systems. I strongly advise against building data warehouses or data lakes. These projects take multiple years to design and build and are often irrelevant or sub-optimal by the time they go live. Instead, look at cloud based BI tools like Tableau or Domo. Let the data persist around the enterprise and use these tools to build the insights you need by drawing on the data, not moving it or trying to centralize it.
Additionally, there is an emerging set of Customer Data Platforms like Lytics, BlueConic and Lattice-Engines that can smartly aggregate data and deliver customer focused insights. These platforms integrate readily into existing technologies.