Why marketing technology should never be fashionable
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When it comes to marketing technology, it can either be an amazing business driver or simply a hinderance to the business. It all comes down to one thing: how the technology was chosen. Far too often, the latest tech trends and subsequent point solutions are too easy to chase. After all, they are often big and shiny with a lot of promises and with the potential to solve one challenge really well, all at a cheap price point—and that’s where the problem lies.

Marketing-based point solutions and trendy software applications rarely, if ever, address big picture frameworks, neither do they account for changing business environments, economic or social drivers, or even the simplest of changes in customer behavior. Here’s an analogy: if you treat buying MarTech like a common pair of trendy shoes, then it will inevitably go out of style. Purchase something that is timeless and goes with anything and you’ll have something with a useful lifespan paired with lots of ROI. The same can be said for business infrastructure.

Now, as the new millennium is in full swing addressing new business needs, wants, and desires, the low-end point solution market is suffering. Therefore, the focus must be on big-picture solutions—ones that address the totality of the business environment. And, I don’t mean just marketing, that’s the key.

Systems required to address modern business needs and goals have to be inter-connective in the same way that digital transformation is propelling companies into an everything-must-speak-to-one-another environment. The primary driver? Data.

Data of all kinds has quickly become the lifeblood of companies: the core of business intelligence, automation, and reporting, resulting in the ability to make informed business decisions at every step. And that’s where fashionable tech fails in extraordinary ways.

The siloed nature of point solutions and “small apps” negates the connectivity and use of data across platforms. And I don’t mean just marketing platforms. There is a whole ecosystem to which marketing must now connect to, and speak to in a bi-modal manner. From point-of-sale systems, to eCommerce platforms, to points and loyalty programs—all of these impact marketing, and more. But there is far more to consider. What about ERPs and financial systems? Or perhaps inventory management or supply chain infrastructure? Right down to how employees interact with each other, interact with customers, and interact with whatever other system may be in place.

Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s not about solving one issue, even within marketing, by buying some small solution for a single-siloed challenge. It’s about calculating the risk of buying that small solution for a single-siloed challenge that will virtually cripple productivity, connectivity, and ultimately and systematically paralyze future business goals.

But why are so-called fashionable marketing tools purchased to begin with? And how does marketing move from small, ineffectual point solutions to obtaining systems that speak to the totality of the business success?

By doing just that: Ensuring you talk about infrastructure as connective tissue, rather than just an appendage. Oftentimes, marketing is left to its own devices, it’s recognized as an asset within the company, although one that can be cut when times are tough. Why is that?

You see, tools and infrastructure are often relegated to marketing through cost-savings measures—not to mention a misunderstanding of what marketing (and the company) truly needs. If little to no results come from point solutions, then how can marketing or its infrastructure be viewed as a necessity? Welcome to the vicious circle—and the reason that point solutions are often purchased. They are cheap, easy, and warrant no review or consideration from any other department.

To solve this, when addressing the need for marketing tools, all systems must be calculated into the total business outcome. Once all departments realize that marketing is no different from finance, operations, product development, and more—all requiring tools that to do their jobs well—then marketing too should be able to move past the fashionable, and into the long-term, business changing environment that their counterparts enjoy.

The goal, if ever there was one, is to avoid bad technology decisions by involving all key players. This will create the environment where the ubiquitous connectivity of digital transformation can thrive, while simultaneously doing away with point solutions that calculate shelf-life and ROI in weeks—not in years.