The Drum launches 'Martech Heroes' with Stein IAS

Are you a Martech Hero? Marc Keating, Stein IAS, chief innovation officer talks to The Drum about championing unsung heroes.

The Drum has joined forces with Stein IAS to recognise the very best people in martech; the individuals who are blazing a trail in helping their companies get real ROI from their tech stacks - and we need your help to find these all too often unsung heroes. The most nominated individuals will receive a special accolade at the B2B Awards in New York.

So nominate the people you believe qualifies as a Martech Hero here. We spoke to chief innovation officer of Stein IAS, Marc Keating about why it's so important to champion Martech Heroes.

The ad industry is usually quite good at celebrating people within it. We have awards celebrating the best creatives and strategists and league tables dedicated to championing the best agencies, from independent to network.

But there is one area that isn’t celebrated nearly to the extent it should be given its impact on every facet of advertising and marketing.

That area is martech, despite its growing importance in our world, and despite it being around for 20 years.

It’s still seen as new and there is a real lack of knowledge in the market about who is shaping it, and appreciation of the role they play within it.

It’s important to help the wider marketing and advertising community – from CMOs to CEOs - to understand not just what these people do but their capacity to drive change within a business. To improve our understanding of what best practise looks like for martech. And to give recognition to the discipline (and the people) that underpin most digital transformations and go-to market-strategies, despite there often not being clear-enough definitions of their role within a business.

It’s a rare breed of individual that can pull off being a Martech Hero– the type of person you’ll see in this poll. Part marketing expert, part technologist, part business strategist, part consultant - these are the people, that come a few years, will be sitting on boards of the most successful companies on the planet.

But who are they? These are people that understand marketing and work in line with a business’s go- to-market strategy. They recognise the need for the integration of all B2B marketing functions, as well as the alignment of marketing with sales. They obviously get technology. And they are lateral thinkers, who know all the different functions of a business and how they connects together.

And yet despite having all these skills… they are still, too regularly left on the outside. Marketing technology has to be seen as an enabler, not a barrier, to better creativity and to better experiences for consumers. Effective deployment of technology helps create a seamless delivery - how to connect the messages along customer journeys, how to retarget effectively, how to trigger the right content at the right time so it adds value to the buying process.

There is innovation and creativity in doing all that effectively, so it doesn’t feel intrusive or robotic.

The people celebrated through this poll, are the people doing just that every day, whilst also ensuring programs are focused on delivering results and ROI.

The people you’ll meet are breaking down silos, not just within agency teams, but also within client teams. We can see the impact it has when creatives and technologists are on the same side from the start. It takes time and strategic investment - both in terms of pounds and people.

At Stein IAS, martech is a core part of our strategy and embedded into the business. It enables us to provide deeper insight into markets for clients, to identify real-time behaviour and buying triggers in those markets, and to focus our efforts for the best return.

More importantly, we champion martech with our clients in order to unlock budgets to try new things and it’s (thankfully) becoming an easier sell. If, as a business that hopes to engage customers with a seamless journey, you aren’t taking the time to invest and test in this technology now, where do you think you’ll be in five years when the delivery of intelligent experiences powered by AI, machine learning and cognitive marketing clouds will be the norm?

Agencies need to be advising clients on how to select the right technology, how to integrate it, how to build a prioritised tech stack (i.e., not investing in predictive tech if you don’t have your CRM and data sorted first).

I think most organisations aren’t getting the most out of martech (yet) – either through not understanding what they already hold within their business or within their clients’ businesses, or by simply asking the wrong questions when it comes to utilising new tech.

The right questions are: What are we trying to achieve? Why do we need technology to achieve it? What’s the business strategy? What’s the marketing strategy? What’s our key use cases or optimisation goals? Do we have a shared vision (client, agency, customer) from the start? Is that vision connected to the business strategy? If the answer is no – you’re likely to fail or at least under-perform expectations.

The best martech visionaries and practitioners are achieving outstanding results. They are applying technology to enable true digital marketing transformation. They are leading from the front lines, building on successes achieved, and looking to achieve even more in the years to come. They are the individuals we can all learn from in the form of immediately actionable approaches

Gartner reports that 22% of enterprise marketing budgets is being allocated to marketing technology. Clearly, it’s time to celebrate the “transformers” who are driving massive change (for the better) in our industry.

Marc Keating, chief innovation officer, Stein IAS

Nominate your Martech Hero here and get them recognition on our Top Martech Heroes list that will be launched in October. A selected hero will receive an award as the ultimate Martech Hero at the B2B Awards in New York on 15 November. Nominate now.

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