Technology is an enabler. It helps to deliver the goal, but it should never be an end in itself. Too many marketers still think that their troubles end when they turn on the machine. Worse, they cede too decision making to technology professionals while underestimating the opportunity to drive significant organisational change.
This third column on marketing technology dives a little more deeply into the common misconceptions around marketing technology platform implementations. And at the end it identifies the common characteristics of those companies that get the most out of their marketing technology investments.
One of the most common misconceptions many marketers hold is that they will see big improvements simply as a function of having bought the software and flicked the on switch.
The reality however is that to get the most out of a modern marketing cloud, marketing leaders need to take the opportunity to re-engineer their marketing workplace. It is the internal changes they implement as part of a cultural change programs that offer the most profound and beneficial long-term benefits.
However, those changes inevitably impact more than just the marketing department. Other teams and stakeholders inside the company also have to adjust. And sometimes a need for brand new teams are necessary as a result of the change.
The second big misconception, – which occasionally stems from the first – is the view of some CMOs that they can coast through a marketing technology project as a passenger. Such thinking leans too much towards the technology outcomes and not nearly enough towards the strategic marketing outcomes.
Any successful implementation will involve other departments and managers in other parts of the business who need to be co-opted, encouraged and sometimes brow beaten into the change. As such for the program to succeed it will need executive clout. A marketing cloud decision is much more than a technology decision. It is also a strategy decision, a work flow decision and a capabilities decision
The issues about capabilities is especially important. The nature of cloud based models is that companies do not have to make big capital investments up front. Instead, they are typically spending as they use the solution on an ongoing basis. Under such a model staff capabilities are a direct driver of cost outcomes. Spend is typically related to the aggregate usage and ideally that will relate to the value that a brand can extract from its investment.
Indeed the actual technology spend should be pretty easy to predict. The ongoing overhead of managing the platform requires more consideration.
So what are the characteristics of companies that get it right.
Three factors stand out;
- The CMOs that extract the most value from their marketing technology platforms have clear and measurable goals to which the technology is applied.
- The smartest marketing leaders start with the goal in mind and work backwards, building a full model of the changes they need to implement, not just in terms of technology but also in terms of business practice.
- And finally, leadership and project ownership must never be in dispute. The most successful projects have clear leadership, and those leaders have the authority to ensure cross team cooperation.
Great technology is an essential but insufficient pre-condition to ensure ongoing marketing success. What is required are leaders willing to address and implement meaningful organisational change inside their companies and to equip their staff with both the tools and the capabilities to succeed.
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About the authors
Paul Cross is the Group Vice President, Customer Success, Oracle Marketing Cloud (OMC), ANZ, Asia and Japan. Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Oracle Marketing Cloud is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their expertise and insights to Which-50 for the benefit of our senior executive audience. Membership fees apply.