As Scott Brinker had said in one of his recent; it’s truly an incredible time to be working in marketing — and, even more so, marketing technology. The innovation happening across this industry is staggering. Yet it is still merely a reflection of the broader transformation that’s happening in marketing overall.
But as we all know, everything that glitters is not gold. While the opportunities and market share is obvious within the space, the path towards success is not easy. The evolution of technology brings tremendous chaos and a strong temptation to become technology driven and channel focused. These are critical roadblocks to delivering an immersive, seamless and omni channel consumer experience that requires all aspects of the marketing landscape to be consumer focused. So how do you establish a cadence around this chaos? What are some of the first principles needed for an agile and scalable marketing technology capability?
The First Principles of building a Global Marketing Technology Capability:
1. A Marketing Technology Organization with a Chief Marketing Technologist – Very well discussed on this post published in Harvard Business Review last year, take a read. For brands to be successful, marketing technology cannot be a makeshift or outsourced capability, it’s a capability that needs conscious investment and focus. Regardless of where the capability sits, within IT or within Marketing or as a hybrid between the two, the key is to establish a capability at the intersection of marketing, technology and storytelling with a chief marketing technologist at the helm and a well defined vision of building enterprise, emerging and innovative marketing technology capabilities that will drive category growth as well as enable legendary brand building. There are many potential org models; you need to choose what is best for your organization.
2. Find the Human; Make it About Consumer Behavior – A huge challenge and opportunity for every CMO or CMTO that needs to be addressed rather quickly; a gap I spoke about in my recent blog on finding the human within the marketing technology landscape. The proliferation of marketing technology has been fascinating. The number of technology platforms have more than doubled just in the last twelve months as reflected in this latest marketing technology supergraphic.
The key for brands and marketers is to ensure they don’t lost the “human”, the “person”, the “consumer” from within this marketing technology landscape while at the same time establishing “cadence around the chaos” by defining frameworks and paradigms for marketing technology management.
It is essential to resist the temptation to be technology lead or channel focused, instead become consumer obsessed. Define your marketing technology strategy in order to change consumer behaviors that prevent you from making money and building legendary brands; inspire consumer behavior by meeting their rational and emotional needs through data and technology. Don’t be the hammer looking for a nail.
This can be done by orchestrating the marketing technology landscape using different paradigms that go beyond the channel; organize your marketing technologies by:
- Consumer Behavior that need to be Changed
- Business Challenges
- Enterprise, Localized and Innovative Technologies
- Media, Content, Data and Commerce as Capability Categories
3. A Connected Ecosystem, Drop the Silos – If delivering a seamless consumer experience is like your dream home, data and technology are the pipes and the wiring that will connect the house together. In an ecosystem that is increasingly isolated and silo by channels and technology platforms, it is critical to connect these technologies through data; ultimately driving a frictionless and immersive experience. Shift the focus from the number of technologies to how connected they are with each other.
4. Need for Speed versus Desire for Perfection | Freedom within the Framework – Perhaps the dilemma of the decade, should you build global scalable platforms that drive reuse and efficiency and cost savings (if built right) or focus on speed, flexibility and agility considering the market diversities across the globe. While there may not be a silver bullet here, always remember that in the world of marketing where consumer expectations and desires as well technologies are changing almost every day. With those dynamics, the need for speed will always be higher than the desire for perfection. Establish a model that provides freedom but within a framework to your local markets. Just because we could have one global solution does not mean we should have one global solution. At times it may be ok to have five different instances if they can leverage a common framework, best practices and guidelines in order to gain speed, agility and flexibility across markets.
5. Raise The Unicorns –- None of this will be possible without the right talent, the unicorns who live and breathe at the intersection of marketing, technology and storytelling. A phenomena I shared about on the Economist on the DNA of the modern marketer and why marketing needs these unicorns.
These are technologists who understand the nuances of marketing; they understand the consumer needs and desires and have the ability to run at 100 mph even with limited visibility, which is a hallmark of marketing – ambiguity. Whether they started as technologists who learned the art of brand building and storytelling or they were marketers who became technologists because they know you could not separate the two anymore, regardless of the path they all live at the intersection, and that’s where you engage the consumer. Keep this quote from Elbert Einstein as the foundation of your marketing technology organization – “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough”.
These guiding principles may or may not work for you and you may very well have your own versions that have worked for you because a lot of these decisions tend to be organizational specific. However, one thing is certain, the organization’s that decide to break the traditional silos of channels and org models and drive convergence across marketing, technology and even sales will be the ones that will succeed, the rest will perish with the weight of disruption around them.