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I recently wrote about the false hopes and hidden costs that marketing automation is bringing to many companies. With the best of intentions, leaders often hope that new technologies and capabilities will pull teams together and these newly empowered marketers will drive breakthrough returns. While companies understand the need to give tools to their marketers, the balance of the problems we see are often unrelated to the technology. And the latest research underscores some of the issues: many fewer teams cite budget as the reason for a lack of adoption. As Scott Brinker, president and CTO of ion interactive wrote, “there are all these tools now; what do we actually do with them.” Especially as customers expect a more seamless and always-on experience, the challenge for marketing leaders is finding a more cohesive technology approach that meets those demands. The question is how do you ease the transitions in moving from the first generation of marketing automation to something more integrated and customer-centric?
This job is made even more difficult by the most visible and distracting battlegrounds in MarTech: the battle between best-in-breed tools and single-vendor suites. The large software vendors push their so-called integrated marketing clouds, collections of acquired tools often only integrated on paper. They also emphasize consistency, simpler purchasing, and a single “throat to choke.” On the other side are specialist tool vendors that drive differential impact quickly – but often minimize technical and functional integration with the rest of a marketing stack. And as you try to balance the tension between generating marketing impact today while building for tomorrow, the battle between vendors – more than 3,800 at last count – doesn’t help. We offer three thoughts to help cut through that noise and focus on getting to an architecture what will support your digital marketing over time:
For us, it’s all about guiding clients toward a more informed architectural decision based on uncovering requirements and emphasizing competitive advantages. The wrong architectural decision – whether instantiated in best-in-breed tools, an integrated suite, or a mix – could set marketing and the company back by years. Before getting to toolsets, we focus on which aspects of the technology stack ought to be implemented as centralized “shared services” and which functions can operate more flexibly while under some centralized governance. Once you have your requirements and priorities in hand, your teams can focus on the technology areas of highest leverage at a given point in time. The tension across multiple dimensions – short-term vs. long-term, best-in-breed vs. single vendor stack, centralized vs. decentralized – will always be there. Your job is to help cut through the vendor clutter and allow your teams make technology choices most appropriate for your market and organization over time.
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