Integration is essential when building and optimizing your marketing stack. It creates a more efficient and effective digital ecosystem data that allows marketers to gain real-time insights into campaign performance while providing a holistic view of customers and marketing efforts.
Yet for most organizations, martech integration is not a priority — and understandably so. The technical part of the endeavor makes it a resource-intensive and daunting task. On top of this, additional capabilities are required beyond technical readiness to successfully tackle the martech integration challenge.
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Technical requirements for integration
Integrating your marketing technology stack into a unified digital ecosystem can be challenging and time-consuming. It can also be costly and frustrating without the right martech consultants to lead strategic and tactical road mapping and execution.
But failure to start with integration initiatives now presents many challenges, including technical debt. Technical debt in the case of marketing technology is similar to that of software development projects.
In both instances, it’s primarily driven by the cost of rework caused by taking the easy road to a “now” outcome instead of using a more reasonable approach that might take longer.
Martech debt can be caused by:
- Lack of requirements and resources.
- Inadequate vendor/product due diligence.
- Rushing to solve the problem du jour.
- Poor leadership.
Martech integration is complex work that requires considerable technical acuity. Furthermore, organizational and martech skills and a culture of experimentation are at the core of successful integration initiatives.
Let’s explore each of these areas in a bit more detail.
When I say organizational skills, I’m not talking about time management, analytical thinking, attention to detail, etc. Although these skills are essential, I’m referring to the ability to build, lead, and work on cross-functional teams across an organization.
The most crucial organizational skill concerning martech is cross-departmental collaboration. Forging a mutually beneficial relationship between marketing and IT is vital.
The CMO and CTO didn’t have much in common a decade ago. Today, with the cloud, data-driven marketing, mobile, e-commerce, cybersecurity, and untethered consumers who move faster than every brand they engage with, CMOs often spend more on technology than their CTO colleagues.
Some 25% of marketing budgets are spent on marketing technology, according to the 2022 Gartner CMO Spend Survey. That’s a considerable investment worthy of some risk management. In other words, developing the organizational skills necessary to build this relationship is an absolute must.
For example, you may not need the IT department to directly develop or manage martech for your marketing organization. Still, your CTO partner likely has valuable experience and advice that can help you understand how to get it done and avoid the pitfalls that lead to 70% of projects failing to deliver on expectations.
“74.18% of our participants reported that they already have someone explicitly in charge of marketing technology or plan to have someone within the next 12 months.” This is a key finding from a 2017 Chiefmartec survey of 275 marketing leaders.
Fast-forward some five years, and a Linkedin search of people in senior marketing technology roles returned over 5,000 people globally, with more than 3,000 in the United States alone. Some individuals carried multiple titles and were not fully dedicated to the martech role. Still, there’s no denying that the martech lead has become essential in businesses worldwide.
The martech leader is a critical resource for the CMO to help forge the marketing/IT relationship I mentioned above. Martech leaders need a solid mix of business, marketing, and technology skills. They are agents of change and know how to build relationships across the enterprise.
Just as important, they have a vision of how business, marketing, and technology align to drive measurable business outcomes.
Read next: Aggregation is key to the new Martech Map
Culture of experimentation
Continuous innovation is rooted in experimentation.
Paraphrasing from Stefan Thomke’s excellent book, “Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments,” the most successful companies:
- Ensure the entire organization is steeped in the value of experimentation.
- Has the required capabilities to think experimentally.
- Is empowered to proceed under the mentality that “everything is a test.”
Our experiences during the recent pandemic prove that this model is, at the very least, worthy of exploration.
COVID-19 sped up technology adoption by at least one order of magnitude and spurred unprecedented e-commerce growth worldwide. E-commerce sales increased by 43% in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, according to the 2020 Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS). It’s safe to say this e-commerce explosion was partly due to a tremendous surge in experimentation.
Many corporations embrace team experimentation, especially in software development. Team experiments help you discover new strategies or validate existing ones. Google recommends the following practices to help you improve team experimentation:
• Empower teams. Get out of the way, and allow teams to work on new ideas to surface and achieve business goals that solve significant problems.
• Provide information and context. Measuring organizational outcomes provides information critical to making the best decisions so teams can achieve expected results and solve problems. Providing teams with information and context lets teams make informed decisions about the right work.
• Leave the details to the team. In the highest-performing teams and organizations, teams are allowed to make informed decisions about the tools and technologies they use. Understand and acknowledge that they are the experts, and empower them to change stories, specifications, and technologies when they decide it’s appropriate.
Strategically integrating disconnected and divergent martech tools into a unified digital ecosystem should be prioritized. This allows organizations to take full advantage of marketing technology investments and help reduce the risk of martech debt.
But martech integration needs more than technical skills. Beyond the tech chops required to harness the power of APIs and other integration tools, additional skills and cultural considerations are necessary for success.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Gene has been a Martech Healer for over three decades, inventing the future while helping organizations and leaders ‘Ride the Crest of Change.’ A serial entrepreneur since his first newspaper delivery start-up, Gene developed early innovations in social media networks, digital-out-of-home narrowcasting, and SMS mobile marketing. He currently serves as the president and chief strategy officer at GeekHive, a New York-based marketing technology consultancy helping clients maximize their investments in martech.