Building the ultimate MarTech stack is a process of fitting blocks together and making sure they have a great bond. This article expresses various methods for identifying, prioritizing and acquiring those blocks. If you haven’t yet read the blog article Planning your Revenue Marketing Stack: It’s Not Just About Technologies, it serves the stage for this topic. I assume you have already aligned with the information in that article but to summarize:
Building the ultimate stack for your industrial manufacturing business is about knowing what you have and where you want to your organization to go. The organization must be able and willing to change and have a proven process for adopting new technologies.
Assuming the goals have been determined and have been associated with some tactical objectives, the task of optimizing existing technology and acquiring new technology should follow next in the process.
Inventory Your Current Stack and Determine Gaps
You may already be utilizing a few platforms or applications to manage marketing and engagement. Each tool supports different aspects of marketing strategy and execution, and it and will likely be related to a particular marketing function. To map an objective to the technology ideal for supporting it, organize your objectives and tactics into categories such as Social Monitoring or Syndication, Data Management, Content Development and Publishing. In documenting your inventory, attempt to pair what the organization wants to do with what is technically possible given your current infrastructure. This will identify what applications are missing from your stack.
Assess Your Current Stack
Once you have created an inventory of your existing platforms and their purposes, identify how well each is performing. Characteristics of performance include degree of integration (if applicable), adoption and success metrics associated with the use or implementation of the platform.
Evaluate your existing technologies by determining if they:
- Align with your business objectives
- Have been implemented to support those objectives
- Are relevant given your current model or strategy
- Were short term/low cost and should be replaced with something more comprehensive
- Have an internal support team/owner associated with them
- Have been integrated successfully with other core components
Improving your Existing Stack
You may have noticed that you have applications that align with your marketing objectives, but the stack still doesn’t meet the needs of your organization. The Pedowitz Group (TPG) has performed several Revenue Marketing Architectural Assessments in which we found that clients had many of the platforms they needed, but those systems were not achieving their expected results. Reasons for this included not being well-integrated with core components, not being well-adopted, or not having support from the business. Optimizing the stack did not require a technology change; instead, they needed our support with improved process engineering and improved adoption through training programs.
For some organizations, acquiring new technology is difficult due to procurement constraints. If an organization has already purchased a platform or service, it may be advantageous to improve it rather than begin the process for acquiring a new one. Also, explore other service or platform offerings with your existing vendors that can be added to meet your objectives since they may already be on an approved vendor list.
Augmenting your Stack
Acquiring new technology may be necessary to address the gaps identified in your assessment. However, this process can be overwhelming given how many options are available on the market. We have seen the highest degree of success when clients approach this like any other project in their organization. They assign project stakeholders and a team to support the tasks of selecting, implementing and adoption of a new technology. The team is responsible for identifying business processes that can or should change, business processes that cannot be changed and business requirements that the technology should support. This is important since many platforms are architected based on common business practices; during your vendor evaluation, it will be important to understand if your processes can be changed to align with the platform.
All organizations operate within various constraints such as time, budget and resources. This can complicate defining a roadmap and selecting technology. A common mistake is to consider what pain points are most prominent and evaluate technology to alleviate those first. Another is to acquire technology that promises substantial revenue growth.
The process for prioritizing technology is a blend of several components. It looks for technology that can be implemented to improve business capabilities and provide the most revenue growth. The following graphic can help prioritize technology to have the greatest impact on your business capabilities and revenue growth:
Ideally, you are looking to implement technologies that fit in the upper right corner of the matrix first. As your marketing stack matures, it will work towards the bottom left corner.
MarTech solutions range from those intended to produce, organize and measure content to those that help with account targeting and generating leads. This exemplifies the importance of knowing what your business is trying to accomplish because that indicates which technologies will have the greatest revenue impact for you. You also identified the technology barriers that prevented you from achieving your growth target; these are areas where you are lacking some marketing capabilities. This model explains why most companies already have a Marketing Automation platform, which is often the core of their marketing architecture. It adds the greatest amount of marketing capabilities and has the highest direct impact on revenue growth.
We have narrowed down the technology category we need to add to our stack to meet our business objectives, but there are still so many different vendors and options. A quick way to start is to look for those that have native integrations or plug in to your existing stack. For example, many platforms or services have native integrations with Marketo or Eloqua. That can help reduce the time to deployment, but be sure that the integration will meet your business requirements, as some can be very limited.
Some common questions to ask when selecting technology:
- How does this technology align with our strategy?
- Does it achieve a majority of our business requirements?
- Is it compatible with our current stack? Integrate natively?
- What revenue impact will this have?
- How long will this take to implement and provide a positive impact to our business?
- Do I already have the resources needed to manage and maintain this?
Narrow down the vendors based on these and other factors, including price, to be sure the solution meets your budget.
A free trial can be a great way to evaluate software, but I encourage you to do this while still scheduling a demo with a sales engineer. You may miss key functionality in a technology that is essential to your business. Since you have already identified many of your business use cases, you can also ask how the vendor would handle some of the more complex scenarios.
A limited pilot can also be a great way to evaluate technology functionality. Define a very limited scenario and build it out either using a free trial or a demo instance provided by the vendor. This can also help generate some rough timelines for implementing the solution as you better understand the learning curve required and effort for configuration tasks.
Ask Your Friendly Consultant
In my career, I have learned that the more time spent with a platform or technology, the more you understand how to best leverage that technology to meet the needs of the business. You learn its strengths and limitations.
At TPG, we have consultants who spend a significant amount of time in these tools. It is common practice for us to send out an internal email asking about recommendations for technologies for clients. When I ask this question, I am always amazed by how many responses I get and the depth of knowledge our team has. It has shown me that a vendor-agnostic consultant can be a great resource for learning more about a vendor product than I ever knew possible.
Implementation and Integration
Now that we have our blocks, it is time to start building. Implementing technology is a challenging process. The team must identify and document all the business use cases to ensure the technology is implemented properly. Internal resources may require training on platforms to be able to configure and manage them for your environment and organization. The process needs to account for change management to ensure successful adoption and ownership to ensure proper technology support.
The technology may need to be integrated into your existing stack. Although the integration discussion is an important one, it will be addressed in an upcoming article. Adoption, support and integrations are what binds these blocks in a stack. These join what would otherwise be disparate systems and unify them under a common goal, revenue growth.
Building the ultimate stack for your industrial manufacturing business begins with knowing what you want to do and how you can do it. With this knowledge, you will be able to identify the right technology to achieve those goals. Your organization must also equally be prepared to acquire them and assimilate them into your stack. That includes proper implementation, adoption, support and integration.
As you bring on new technology, this process will become refined. It will become easier to add technologies to your stack. As you become more agile, your marketing architecture will inevitably become much more mature.
Brian Johnson is a Solution Engineer at the Pedowitz Group. Brian has been with the Pedowitz Group for over 3 years now and has been involved in web application development more than 10 years. His ingenuity combined with his technical background enables Brian to offer solutions for all types of business requirements related to Revenue Marketing.
- Posted by Brian Johnson
- On 03/08/2017
- 0 Comments