Martech management: Balancing productivity and protection to drive CX transformation

Many organisations in Australia aren’t getting the most out of their software and martech. Ben Shapiro explores how businesses can manage martech systems, better balancing productivity and protection, to really drive CX transformation and business growth.

Martech is a powerful toolkit that can transform an organisation and help it achieve its commercial goals. But it’s also a highly complex landscape that requires a combination of specialist skills, in-depth technical knowledge and the right foundations to be truly effective.  

To drive organisational impact, it’s critical that the technical ‘plumbing’ supports the business growth ambitions. While this is not necessarily visible to the outside world, the productivity benefits of this investment will far outweigh the cost as it provides the platform to drive business growth. 

The right plumbing can promote productivity 

Think of it like trying to water five acres of garden with a simple garden hose. Not only is this time intensive but hugely ineffective. Instead, you could invest in an underground irrigation system that can’t be seen but enables you to manage and govern how you water the entire garden, or selectively identify areas of the garden that need it most, all from the one water source. The maintenance is far less labour intensive but can be actioned quickly and effectively. It’s the same premise with martech establishment and management.  

The truth is, an organisation’s martech and CX transformation will never be complete, because an agile, always on approach that is constantly testing, learning, adapting and innovating is the best way to drive commercial impact and business growth, which is why you need good plumbing from the outset.  

This is where the challenge lies when it comes to martech management. To evolve and innovate around new insights and customer experiences, you need to integrate systems and regularly add technical features and customer journeys, which requires code and complexities that are essentially invisible.  

The challenge for many organisations is that these technical adjustments can impact other parts of the martech system and if not managed (or plumbed) effectively, run the risk of breaking other things – costing businesses both time and money. And despite the powerful capabilities of martech to drive business transformation, this dichotomy and lack of internal technical confidence is what holds many businesses back.  

How to balance velocity and visibility 

The question for CMOs and senior business leaders then becomes: How do you balance velocity and visibility? How do you open up the technical pipes to allow for innovation and improvement to drive CX transformation, while protecting your stack and the technology that’s currently in place?

Often the problem isn’t just about DevOps or release management. It starts with the infrastructure (the plumbing) and then becomes how that infrastructure + application + code (the stack) is managed as a whole. Therefore, organisations need to have ways to govern their martech that allows for both productivity and protection.  

How to establish martech governance  

The term ‘Martech Governance’ certainly doesn’t sound exciting, but if done right, the outcomes can be. And there are a few parts to this… 

  • The first is developing Rules of Engagement. In this landscape things move so quickly that good organisation is crucial, otherwise things can get messy quickly. It’s like developing your social media guidelines and putting parameters around content, design, messaging and community engagement.
    Just like technical infrastructure application, there are layers on governance across the technical (what you can and can’t do), communications (what you can and can’t say) and brand (how things should look). But when putting martech systems together, it’s important to consider holistic management so that you can move at speed, but ensure things are standardised and programmatic to allow for automation.
  • The second is Selective Application of the rules to drive velocity.  Most people think governance is about stopping things, not necessarily speeding things up and the question then becomes: Which rules should I apply? This is often one of the biggest issues and barriers for organisations because stakeholders can’t agree, which then hampers progress. But the key is being able to identify real versus perceived risk and getting to a point where everyone is aligned.
  • The third is taking an Agile Marketing Approach. To promote velocity, it’s important to create a culture and structure that allows for creativity and agility. At the end of the day, if your governance structures are so tight that there’s no room to move, people will find ways to subvert the system – presenting even greater risk to the organisation. Effective CX is largely about having a hypothesis and testing quickly to see results – so give people the freedom to try. Think of it like bumper bars down the bowling lane. Have a few different sets of rules that can be applied to allow agility, but not one big rule that hampers everything.

And remember, one of the benefits of customer experience design is traceability and the ability to see what happens. If something goes wrong, it’s easy to undo and if something is automated, it can easily be unautomated.

Don’t chase the shiny new toy  

One of the biggest misconceptions in the world of martech is that new tools can fix problems, but they often only create more. While some tools might be good, teams then need to learn how to use them, systems need to be integrated, new rules need to be created and with new tools, comes new opinions. It’s because of this band-aid approach that most organisations in Australia use only 5 percent of their software capabilities, meaning tech and budget wastage is commonplace.  

Instead, invest the time and energy into creating the right structures and technical plumbing. Then learn how to execute efficiently across the stack and operate with speed and agility. Once you start to see patterns and results you can clearly articulate what’s working and what’s not, which enables you to develop an informed plan of attack.  

And just like the garden, it may require time and investment upfront, but once the infrastructure (the pipes) and processes (the plumbing) are firmly cemented, the outcomes and commercial impact can be powerful – and this is how organisations achieve true CX transformation.  

 

Ben Shapiro is the CEO of Triggerfish.

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash.