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Is Your Technology Stack About to Topple Over?

June 9, 2015 | Justin Gray | No Comments |

Here’s something you probably already know: marketers are buying tech at a phenomenal rate.

Marketers always get giddy for new tech, but when your arms are full of analytics tools and web platforms, who do you turn to for seamless integrations? Why you need a Technology Manager.

Not just CRM and marketing automation platforms but tools for data quality, content management, analytics, website optimization – the list grows daily. That’s not a surprise; sales and marketing teams want more efficient workflows and, of course, businesses want to stay at the top of their game. When new solutions promise powerful marketing, brands sit up and pay attention.

Now onto what you might not know: all of these layered components and tools often add up to a technology stack that’s more shaky than solid. Marketing is not an IT group. Give them a collection of technologies and they’re not going to integrate them into an elegantly orchestrated stack. More likely the tech stack will be a haphazard arrangement that causes as many snafus as solutions.

That’s why we have the inevitable new position of – wait for it – marketing tech facilitator. Or to be more literal, a Technology Manager. Orchestrating sales and marketing platforms requires a degree of skill. Do it badly for a year and well, no one will know you screwed up. But then the lack of results, or even bad results start rolling in, it becomes plain that you invested in all these splashy new tools and yet they’re performing at half mast – or worse, at odds with each other.

To reap the full potential of marketing tech, someone must manage all of it. That includes understanding how to use all the capabilities and make them work together for maximum benefit. It also includes strategic prioritization. Frankly, there are a lot of rabbit holes to disappear down when it comes to marketing tech. BI tools, marketing intelligence, predictive data analytics: it’s critical to step back and allocate your efforts appropriately. Often marketers invest way too much time in a feature they believe will transform the organization – and it turns out to make very little difference.

To keep your tech stack from toppling over, consider the following two critical points.

Scalability is crucial. Let’s say your team starts out with a project management system, adds in a marketing automation system, then CRM and CMS platforms. They later acquire a few more solutions that focus on specific data analytics and website optimization. Eighteen months down the line, the team has grown and so has the database. Is the tech stack still working smoothly? Or is it behaving like a badly-constructed train, huffing and halting and breaking down on the tracks?

Any rough spots will only intensify as your business grows. If systems can’t talk to each other early on, yet you pour more of your business lifeblood into each one, you’ll be facing a trainwreck one day. Make sure your tech stack and processes are smooth and scalable or adding more technology is just going to make things clumsier.

Realize that sometimes less is more. As marketers, we always have our eyes on the latest and greatest new toys. The unglamorous truth is that there are currently only two critical pieces required to be successful: CRM and marketing automation. That’s where businesses should start and that’s where they should stay until they’ve mastered them completely. Until they’ve done so, they’re not ready to muddy the waters with other tech.

Marketers also don’t have a long history of experience with procurement or for that matter the consequences of bad contracts or the pains of technology governance. Those waters are deep and filled with peril. I know that passing up some of the new solutions arriving on the market can feel like you’re missing out. But by exploring all of the capabilities in the systems you already have and maximizing those systems, you can reap spectacular results – and keep your tech stack clean and steady.

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