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From Technology Deployment to Data Integration

What Have We Learned?

Marketing technology teams and IT organizations are dealing with some critical issues today, but these problems are nothing new, and solving them can start by simply referencing the past. However, it’s possible that we are at an inflection point.

For the last couple of years, the trend has been for marketing and IT to procure marketing technology systems to solve some of their problems.  However, some statistics might be pointing to a change in that trend.  A recent survey by Sailthru states “73% said they have in place the foundation and structure needed to excel at multi-channel/cross channel campaign management.”  Another survey from the CMO Council says “only 3 percent of marketers believe they are totally connected and aligned across all systems, with data, metrics and insights flowing seamlessly across all technology platforms.”  

The challenges that marketers are facing have not gone away, it’s more that technology is not supporting IT challenges in their entirety because the main obstacle is the data. We’ve been here before.

A few years ago, organizations were having trouble supporting their customers from an information standpoint. There was a new software solution released to solve just that problem. It was a solution without a plan and technology bought without the right requirements or specs, and not enough due diligence. Marketing bought software for the short-term not the long-term, and without understanding that the solution needed to be integrated into the business processes and flows of the organization, for the deployment to be successful.

But this time it’s different. Back then it was about one system: Siebel, and the introduction to CRM. This time it’s about multiple systems, or ecosystems that are systems of systems.  Secondly, marketers from the years surrounding Y2K (2000) are now leaders in their organizations. They know how bad it was then. They won’t let it happen again (at least not the same way). In one organization, the acronym “CRM” is not allowed to be mentioned within the walls of the building. That’s how bad the hangover is, even today.

So how exactly is it different this time? It’s the new problems we don’t know about that are the barriers to our success in 2017.

It’s important for marketers to be thoughtful now, conduct more due diligence, and (potentially) even pause and take a step back before plowing forward on the work. You need a plan:

1) Have a strategy:

What do you want to sell that offers the best customer experience, or what will be the most profitable to your organization. Identify to whom you are selling and how you will orchestrate it.

2) Be selective:

You can’t do everything at once or serve everyone in the same way.  So, pick your top customers, and the top three to four customer journeys that your infrastructure needs to support, the ones that will be best balance of customer experience, operational fit for your organization, and profitability. 

3) Evaluate your tech stack:

Figure out where you are starting from.  Of your technology stack, categorize your technology by your best systems, previous investments that you should leverage further, and systems you may want to replace.  

4) Use systems theory:

Identify the cornerstone system in your architecture and build on that.  This system will be the most powerful, valuable, most touched by customers, and highest activity in terms of record updates. Next, bring in your customer journeys and identify the systems, tools, and data that work well with your cornerstone.  Now identify the gaps you still have and find tools to close those gaps. This is critical. Make sure it fits into your long-term architecture and works well with your identified systems, especially your cornerstone.

This is just the start to the work needed to get your marketing transformation ready from a technology standpoint. Now you are ready to start your data integration project.