What do you do when the vast majority of marketers claim they’re planning to invest even more next year in martech than they did in the last, only for a large proportion of them to also admit that most of their technology is too complicated for them to do their job well?
This isn’t some daft ‘what if?’ scenario. These are real findings from a giant, 5,000 marketer-strong survey conducted by Acquia. It has found that 86% of marketers worldwide were going to spend more on martech in the next 12 months, but that 65% felt much of the tech they deal with is far too complex to create a good customer experience.
The simple fact is that senior marketers know they need to get deeply involved in martech but feel thoroughly unprepared to tackle it. It’s not surprising. We’ll be the first to admit that managing martech requires not just a whole new skill set, but a whole new way of organising teams, departments – hell, the whole organisation could do with a rejig.
In the 4Ps of Marketing Technology, MarTech Alliance’s framework for implementing and managing martech, the second P after Plan and before Platform is People, getting the right team in place with the right mix of traditional marketing skills and next generation technical capabilities. Does this mean firing your marketing department and starting again? Not at all. Let’s keep that baby and just refresh the bathwater, shall we?
But we do have to accept that the team in a forward-looking, data and martech-driven business will probably look somewhat different to the norm. Common martech (ish) functions include a programme manager, a marketing technology product owner, marketing database architect, someone on the marketing analytics side and the fantastically-named scrum master and growth hackers.
Do you need to go out and hire them all instantly? It’s unlikely and also entirely depends on the size, complexity and type of the business. Existing staff may already have some of these skills and slide seamlessly into the role. We like to think of it as a way to ‘Tetris your team’, only people don’t simply disappear when they find the right slot. Just the problems.
There will inevitably, however, be a need for new hires or upskilling. It’s clear from the research above that most marketers feel technology is racing ahead of their ability to keep up. Not everyone needs to become an expert, but most roles will need at least some foundational knowledge to monitor and manage their tools.
More specialised functions, such as the emergent marketing technologist, will be a new hire for many. A rare beast, straddling both marketing and IT specialisms, they’ll be a two-headed Hydra, able to deploy the soft skills of the marketer with the integration and tech-know-how from the IT department. They do exist but, like the data analysts who were last year’s hot commodity, they know their value so be prepared to pay.
But businesses don’t have to go it alone in the drive for martech expertise, and nor should they. Just as you wouldn’t expect even the most moderate-sized business to develop all of its digital advertising, creative, social strategy and more only in-house, there are huge benefits to be had from involving consultancy and supplier support. As specialists in their field, they can bridge the gap between the fast-innovating martech companies and the organisation which has, understandably, pressing priorities other than marketing technology.