Martech gives us a brain and the hands to build a masterpiece, but not the talent. It’s time to focus on people.

Julija Norvidaite on leaving the technology to evolve to focus on the people

In our latest article in the Martech Heroes series, The Drum in association with Stein IAS, talks to Julija Norvidaite, principal campaign consultant at Merkle EMEA, about how the modern world of marketing is being shaped by martech. As case in point, one recent research report states that brands in the UK and North America on average are spending 26% of their overall marketing budgets on martech, including automation software, analytics tools and artificial intelligence.

However, for Norvidaite it is time to shift focus away from technology, which will “evolve almost by inertia,” and instead focus on the people using it.

In the following interview, Norvidaite provides fascinating insights into some of the issues around marketing technology.

The Drum: Marketing technology management is the fabric of the future. But is it really? What is the state of play of the industry?

Julija Norvidaite: The pillars that support marketing technology, technology management and marketing management are multifaceted. Each adds to the overall strength of the foundation. Processes and people are at the core of it, and I see no effective change having an impact on the industry unless these two evolve as rapidly as technology does. I look around me and I see technology evolve at an incomprehensible speed, yet it is the same teams and the same hands using said tech. We need to switch our focus and leave technology to evolve almost by inertia, as it always will, and start focusing on the people using it and the processes required to do it effectively on a global scale.

TD: How would you define martech?

JN: It is the face and the voice of the anonymous. It is the witch and the fairy. It is everything we have always wanted to say and everything we have always wanted to do. It is specific and general in one. Martech gives us a brain and the hands to build a masterpiece, but not necessarily the talent. It’s all of us and none of us in code form: buying and selling the dream in perpetuity.

TD: I’ve read about businesses that have over 400 different types of tools in what they consider their marketing technology stack. What should businesses consider and prioritise when acquiring new marketing technology. Top tips?

JN: The businesses should consider its organisational structure first and foremost. It’s all very well to buy a rocket but unless you have a team of pilots, it will sit in the corner, never launching. I find a lot of the time businesses will invest time and effort into RFIs and RFPs paying little attention to the existing team structure and the individuals who will be asked to make the new tech part of their everyday lives.

A business staffed with generalists will use tech very differently to the business staffed with specialists. Know your people and the product first, re-organise (centralise vs decentralise), then pick the least of two evils. No tech is perfect, and no tech will work without people pushing the buttons.

TD: Let’s talk data. In light of heightened privacy concerns, data breaches, and GDPR, do you think marketers should shift the narrative and use data privacy as a core tenet of the brand’s value?

JN: Data to successful marketers is like a cup and saucer to a tea party. There would be no marketing wins without quality data feeding it; there would be no value of the brand without acquired and generated data. Data, as a subject, has all the clout precisely because it is private, not because it has anything to do with the brand aggregating it. The best the brand can do is respect the power, harness it, lock it in and use it respectfully. I’d say the core tenet of the brand’s value is emotion. The sense of being stalked and listened to has a lot of negative connotations. Marketers should work on the personal without being creepy. That’s the breaking point of any tech.

TD: In some of our earlier interviews, Martech Heroes have said it’s easier to buy than to manage when it comes to marketing technology. Do you think there should be a process when managing martech?

JN: Absolutely. I’d start designing the process by inviting error and failure into it, I’d anticipate errors and encourage failure. I’d build people’s pride around not knowing but figuring it out.

As a species, we have evolved as well as we have because we know, instinctively, how to stay alive. Go through as many errors at initial stages and champion them to avoid errors down the line when it really matters. Agree on the process and agree to dump it 12 months later. Have a leader, have two, have a team, if that helps you reach decisions. Do what no one else is doing. It will most likely work as well if not better. Create your own process and make it fool proof.

You can check out our Martech Hero coverage here.

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