Marketing Technology – Need for Cadence around the Chaos. The world of Marketing today is more complex than it has ever been with new channels and consumer touch points being introduced almost every day. The innovation in data & technology has put today’s consumer right at the center of it all where he/she has the power, control and speed to chose and make decisions whenever and wherever they desire. For brands to efficiently “understand”, “interact” and “engage” every time and every where with this in-control consumer, a new set of marketing technology capabilities are needed, that bring creative, strategy and technology together and connect the conventionally isolated worlds of marketing and technology to deliver personalized, frictionless omni-channel consumer experiences while establishing a system of “engagement” with the consumer.
However with the ability comes the challenge of “too many” – too many technologies, too many shiny objects & possibilities and too much fragmentation within the ever-evolving marketing technology landscape. So how do we get ahead of the curve and bring some cadence to the chaos?
Bird eye view of the Marketing Technology Landscape
Let’s start with a bird eye view of the landscape itself. Scott Brinker in his marketing technology infographic started the tide, Gartner just came out with the Marketing Technology Transit Map as well. A broad set of marketing technology capabilities, the depiction does a reasonable job at showing the integration touchpoints between the capabilities across a wide spectrum of channels and paid, owned & earned media.
While this provides the key capability buckets, the challenge lies far beyond these. There are top 3 challenges that marketers struggle with:
Challenge # 1 – An awareness of what goes underneath these buckets, there are so many possibilities with a mirage of technologies and capability sets
The simplest way to explain this is by digging deeper into one of the technology buckets and understand the capability spectrum underneath. Let’s take CRM for instance, here is a quick analysis of some of the sub capabilities within that bucket that you could possibly adopt to build and evolve your CRM vision & strategy:
Needless to say this is a simple dump of some of the CRM capabilities with very little being done in connecting these with each other to eventually deliver that optimized consumer experience. This leads to the second key challenge.
Challenge # 2 – How do these capabilities connect with each other because they will not be half as good if there were isolated and not integrated into a connected ecosystem
I had written about the need for an integrated marketing technology ecosystem or rather a Marketing Operating System in my blog post mOS – Marketing Operating System. The inter connectivity of these capabilities in terms of exchanging data, consumer behavior and identifying the role that each of these should play is quintessential to delivering a “connected seamless omni-channel” consumer experience. For instance, having a world class CRM capability and the 360 view of the consumer that may include their demographic, social, behavioral, shopping data BUT not able to leverage that data almost real time across the various digital touch points and channels like Email, Mobile, Social, .COM, eStores to deliver personalized and contextual consumer experiences is almost meaningless. This requires integration between your CRM capability and content delivery engines like Web CMS, Email Engines, Mobile Web & Social & eCommerce platforms. The consumer data can be used for both testing & targeting content & experiences.
Challenge # 3 – Prioritization, how do I pick my top 5 capabilities from the 200 out there
This is where the “option of too many” becomes “the problem of too many”. With so many shiny objects that are equally promising, prioritization becomes a huge challenge. With the consumer being omni-present, marketers want to enable every single channel to engage with the consumer.
So how do you create some cadence around this chaos?
While I may not be able to provide a solution to these questions in the blog since the answer could be dramatically different for every brand, I will though recommend an approach to create multiple marketing technology work streams based on how and what they are trying to solve:
1. Enterprise Marketing Technology Capabilities – These are foundational technology capabilities that require enterprise and scaled technology platforms that can potentially be adopted and adapted in multiple markets. These require scale, robustness and flexibility from an architecture standpoint however the desire to globalize these within an organization can pose different types or operational challenges, something I had shared in my last blog on globalization, Globalization – Marketing’s Biggest Challenge?. A quick illustration of enterprise capabilities:
2. Tactical or Creative Marketing Technologies - Tactical Marketing Capabilities are light weight consumer facing technologies that enable omni-channel & frictionless experiences with speed, agility and nimbleness, leveraging data with real time experimentation, optimization and personalization across all possible touch points and channels. Tactical capabilities are different from enterprise in a few areas:
- Locally Driven — Unlike enterprise capabilities, these don’t need to be scaled globally. These drive experiences that are dependent on local consumer segments and brand needs
- Light Weight & Higher Need for Speed & Agility — Need for much faster go to market speed to respond to consumer expectations
- Smaller Investment — Relatively smaller investment as compared to enterprise global platforms
- SaaS solutions & Partnerships - Turn key or configurable SaaS solutions with minimum dependencies on internal and backend infrastructure
- Quick Wins — Evaluate, adopt, implement, measure & optimize. Provide quick wins for the brands
An illustration of the “tactical” landscape that is fairly wide opened:
3. Marketing Technology Innovation – The third work stream of Marketing Technology Innovation puts technology in the forefront of marketing as it has the potential of opening up new business and commercial models. I define technology innovation as:
“Using Technology– new or existing – in Breakthrough ways to Transform the way brands Engage with their consumers- and changing consumer Behavior in the process.”
Regardless of what category a certain technology or capability may belong to, they all should go through an evolution process, an incremental roadmap from the base capability to a state that provides flexibility to test & learn different experiences with agility and nimbleness. You may decide to have your different buckets and categories of marketing technologies and respective work streams but one thing is clear, you cannot wear a unified lens to analyze and build your Marketing Technology Landscape, for it is far too wide, deep and complex requiring a unique methodology, approach and funding model for the different needs.