The world of marketing is changing rapidly as businesses and other organizations strive to meet the demands imposed by the Age of the Customer. One of the more important changes involves a flood of new marketing technology solutions that is reaching the market.
We've identified five key considerations to help you select the right vendors/solutions for your marketing organization as the technology landscape continues to change and grow more complex.
1. Navigating the changing landscape. The flood of new technologies is just getting under way. In the past five years, the number of pure play marketing technology companies has increased tenfold to over 1800. At a recent marketing-technology conference in San Francisco, Ashu Garg of Foundation Capital estimated that spending on marketing technology will grow tenfold, from $12 billion to $120 billion, over the coming decade. Currently, spending on technology accounts for only 1 percent of total marketing spend. Garg expects that to soar to 10 percent over the same time period.
The rapidly accelerating pace of change makes it increasingly difficult to select appropriate capabilities. Few organizations have the time and resources to keep track of the rising volume of new technologies and vendors, much less to determine which of these will best meet organizational needs and objectives.
Selecting the right vendor may require input from a reliable third party that can recommend appropriate solutions. In any case, recognizing that the pace of change is unprecedented may help you recognize that the possibility of getting it wrong is also extremely high and deserves your attention.
2. Broaden your strategy: A common mistake in evaluating marketing technologies is to look for a point solution to a narrow problem rather than take an enterprise view. Taking the broader view involves looking for a solution that will solve not only the immediate problem but that will also support broader strategic objectives such as improving the customer experience or boosting the efficiency of marketing operations.
Related to this is a tendency to overlook how a given solution might (or might not) complement the organization's existing marketing technology stack. Taking the broader view in this respect - that is, assessing solutions with respect to the stack - will help ensure that proposed new capabilities don't overlap existing capabilities and that they can be integrated with the stack.
This points to the importance of having - and following - a roadmap that can guide your organization from its current state to a desired future state. As a rule, successful organizations have a clear understanding of their current technological maturity and how this will evolve over the next two to three years as new capabilities are added to improve customer experience, increase return on investment or achieve other organizational objectives.
3. Overcoming potential gaps in expertise. Marketing teams traditionally haven't had to possess an in-depth understanding of technology in order to do their jobs. That's no longer the case.
Given the growing importance of analytics, Web and mobile applications and other technologies in marketing, it's critical that marketing organizations employ people who not only understand the business of marketing, but who also understand the technical capabilities necessary for effective marketing.
A shortage of well-rounded talent can have both strategic and tactical implications. On the strategic side, the marketing team may lack the expertise to identify and build out critical new technical capabilities. On the tactical side, the team may lack people who can manage the new capabilities from day to day.
"It is a fast-changing world indeed and virtually impossible to know it all," notes an Aug. 14, 2014, article posted on Forbes.com. "So hiring resources, either internal or external advisers, who are dedicated to understanding the technologies needed to execute your marketing strategies and build better customer experiences is a prudent investment to make."
4. Avoiding vendor bias. If your vendor-selection process is conducted in-house, lack of expertise in marketing technologies may make it difficult to evaluate all the available options. If you work directly with vendors, you'll probably encounter bias in favor of specific technologies, some of which may not support your organization's needs and objectives.
You can avert those problems by working with a vendor-agnostic third party that monitors the changing technology landscape and makes objective evaluations of available solutions. Your success depends on your receiving unbiased recommendations geared toward your needs and goals, and not toward the third party's business interests.
5. Partnership among the chief marketing officer, chief technology officer and chief data/information officer. Some CMOs tend to seek the involvement of the CTO and CDO/CIO only after vendor selection has taken place. We've found that active partnership among these three executives needs to begin long before that, even before the business case is articulated.
With all three stakeholders involved throughout the selection process, the marketing organization will be able to vet and validate a wide range of considerations such as security, risk, and technology and data architecture.
To facilitate the process, it's important that you have someone on board who can serve as a bridge among the CMO, CTO and CDO/CIO. A cross-organizational dialog that provides different perspectives will help ensure that the vendor-selection process truly reflects enterprise needs and objectives.
Major investments are at stake
In mid-size and large organizations, it's not uncommon to spend $1-3 million dollars annually over a period of several years to establish a new capability within marketing. With so much at stake, it's key that your investment truly meet organizational goals and needs. Taking into account the five considerations we've highlighted in this blog will help ensure that you get the vendor-selection process right.
In an upcoming blog, we'll discuss the five pitfalls to avoid in selecting a MarTech vendor--which also will help you get it right.
For more information about getting marketing technology vendor selection right, contact Nick Kerzman.