18 April 2017
A fool with a tool is still a fool.
There are no silver bullets.
The best technology will fail without a strong strategy or business process.
Technology without vision, strategic plan, or compelling use case is a wasted investment.
Do these phrases sound familiar? They should! I know my team and I have acquiesced to these notions after a derailed martech deployment or two. They sound familiar because there is truth to the idea that a new tool or technology on its own isn’t going to mean the difference between outperforming and preserving the status quo. The “golden rule” has always been strategy before technology.
But I’m starting to believe that the old rules (golden or not) no longer apply.
Each day, point tools are creating markets by shining spotlights on business problems and painting pictures of a better way. Today’s martech landscape is like a women’s magazine, advertising countless get-in-shape fixes and miracle hacks – and marketers are desperate to show a digital capability that outpaces their peers.’ With a pace so frenetic – how can you reconcile a strategy-first approach every time?
The answer? You don’t. Because technology has critical role in informing your strategy.
In the same way that Account-based marketing and revenue has dissolved the linear progression of lead qualification from marketing to sales, so too has the “strategy before technology” requirement been made irrelevant. In both scenarios, sequential activities have been replaced with cross-function and collaboration. The digital transformation’s agile imperative is being acknowledged both in how we go to market, how we sell, and how we select the technology to support those activities.
It’s not a wise or efficient use of time to plan effective strategy without simultaneously considering the technology that’s available to support it.
If you refuse to consider both in concert, you’ll end up with two scenarios:
- The “Now What?” Have you ever spent 3-6 months developing a strategy for how you’re going to meet the following year’s goal? Usually, after slide 127 finishes its animation and the screen goes dark, you’re left with a lot of head scratching. Now what? How do we begin? Who needs to be involved? How will my job change? The “Now What?” scenario doesn’t think about activation, and when the rubber meets the road, there’s usually reduced budget, reduced time to implement, and little direction on where to begin.
- The “Tunnel Vision:” Sometimes the sizzle of a new technology is too loud to ignore. The train to Innovation Town is leaving, and you’ve cut a check for a first-class seat. Fast forward 3 months after your initial deployment and you’re having trouble rationalizing your investment. You begin to use the technology reactively. It’s Thor’s hammer, and everything is a nail. The tool’s functionality alone is driving your strategy, making you unable to see the forest for the trees. Your tunnel vision has prevented you from being able to differentiate from your competitors.
As marketing and sales leaders, you have a mandate to be aware of what the current tech landscape can offer you as you plan for how you’ll meet your revenue targets.
Here are some ways to stay ahead of the curve:
- Nominate someone on your team to run point on martech education, and ensure they create a regular process of information sharing and feedback collection. Check out this podcast with Jason Hekl and Megan Eisenberg, CMO of MongoDB on how she stays current with her own martech education.
- Commit to and prioritize internal education. Have vendors demo products at weekly meetings or have them join a quarterly offsite.
- Attend industry conferences. MarTech, Marketo Summit, SiriusDecisions, Oracle MME – these shows offer extensive sponsor case studies and exhibition halls. Create a shortlist of technology categories (AI, Buyer Intent, ABM, Sales Enablement, etc.) and set up meetings before you head out to the show. Ask for customer referrals, and be prepared to ask them how they would tackle your organization’s specific use cases.
- Find a trusted partner to help you sift through the landscape. At Inverta, we provide regular advisory to our clients on how to think about their stack, and will have more tips and tricks in the coming months. As always, if you’re looking at an area that we don’t cover, we’ll try our best to connect you with someone who can help.
Happy martech events season, friends! Hope to see you out there!