At MarTech in San Francisco, contributor David Crane gives us a rundown of the talk on marketing tech blueprints by CA Technologies’ Cynthia Gumbert.
Day 1 of MarTech San Francisco didn’t disappoint. Well, there were a couple disappointments; you know, the presentations that drone on about how we marketers need to be customer-focused. The way I see it, if you didn’t already know this, you wouldn’t be at MarTech … and probably shouldn’t be a marketer.
The presentations that stood out – and there were many – were those that focused on specific ways to ensure your organization becomes and remains customer-focused.
Cynthia Gumbert, VP of Marketing Technology & Demand Analytics at CA Technologies, did just that with her discussion, “The MarTech Blueprint Imperative.” As she pointed out, marketing tech blueprints are a highly impactful tool/approach to building a more effective marketing organization focused on the customer experience.
The rapidly growing number of ways individuals acquire information is driving an equally rapid proliferation of marketing tech solutions to capitalize on these new channels as sources of customer data.
This has created a chaotic martech environment, as can be seen in Scott Brinker’s Martech Landscape Supergraphic (which at least gives a semblance of order to the space).
Though we try to neatly fit each individual vendor into easily digested categories, the fact of the matter is that it’s just an illusion – solutions in the same category often have vastly different capabilities. And it’s the marketing technologist’s job to understand which capabilities are needed so that they can invest in the right solutions that will generate a better customer experience and grow the business.
Why We Need Marketing Tech Blueprints
Blueprints enable us to gain a greater understanding of our current capabilities and accurately identify opportunities to advance our marketing operations, whether via tech investments, integrations, strategic shifts, new hire expertise, etc. Blueprints do this by answering questions such as:
- What’s our vision for the customer experience and journey?
- What’s the desired state of marketing technology to fill the buyer journey (move the buyer down the path to purchase)?
- What pieces do we have in place and what’s left to add?
- Are we using what we have – scope, scale, geographically, enablement?
- Have we integrated what we have?
- Are there duplications or unnecessary capabilities?
- How does our data flow affect marketing capabilities and customer experiences?
So, the value is clear. How do we get started?
Taking Tech Inventory
This is the first step. And Cynthia provided a great slide that categorized the technologies (or types of technologies) being used by CA marketing.
Of course, these are the types of slides conference attendees love to see, so when it came up on the screen, about 200 tweet-happy marketers started taking pictures of the slide shown here. (I didn’t take a picture, but rather simply asked Cynthia for the slide.) (The entire presentation is embedded below.)
Cynthia discussed the tactics used to acquire a complete inventory. For example, seeking the help of colleagues in marketing, sales and IT to answer questions such as:
- What are all the technologies used by marketing and sales?
- How do they align, connect, and overlap?
- Which systems are integrated to automate flow of data? Which aren’t?
- Which are the mission-critical pieces of software (that is, what technologies couldn’t you do business without)?
All are important questions to ask.
I just wish she had more time to discuss further elements of the creation process. After the tech inventory slide, we jumped right into a completed CA blueprint.
No one can fault her for this jump; she only had 25 minutes, and she still had to discuss ways to use the blueprint once created.
I use blueprints all the time with customers to ensure there’s business value alignment for both the prospective customer and my company.
I think if Cynthia had been allotted more time, it would’ve been very helpful to discuss inventorying marketing processes in relation to technologies to fully understand any manual inefficiencies that may represent an opportunity for technological impact.
After all, you need a good understanding of the processes these technologies are meant to enhance if the blueprint is to deliver value.
Putting Your Blueprint To Work
You now have a blueprint. But this new visual tool provides absolutely no value unless you use it to discover areas of improvement. So you should analyze the blueprint to answer questions such as:
- What’s manual?
- What’s not working as it should?
- What could be performing better?
With these answers, you’re ready to identify opportunities to improve your customer experience and operational efficiency with new tech investments, new hires that bring specific expertise, alterations to strategy, etc.
Once identified, these new opportunities often must be articulated to stakeholders and decision makers. And the blueprint is a great tool for this as well, enabling stakeholders to more easily absorb information that may otherwise be hard to understand without a visual guide. Such stakeholders and decision makers may include:
- Executives and Board of Directors – Use to provide complete view of strategy and opportunities for improvement
- Line of Business Owners – Use to gain a holistic perspective of all marketing teams/operations to align goals
- Adjacent Departments (e.g., sales and IT) – Use to create a playbook for joint communications and better alignment
- Tech Vendors and Partners – Use to evaluate performance and identify ways to improve vendor/partner value
This was a valuable presentation, despite being forced by time restraints to skip through a few important steps in the blueprint creation process.
As marketing tech continues to become more complex – which it surely will – we’ll see marketers increasingly using blueprints to both increase their technological sophistication and improve the customer experience.
I look forward to future discussions by Cynthia as well as others on the topic of marketing technology blueprints – there’s surely more to come.
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(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)