I have a little secret for everyone in the world of marketing: You have too many choices.
There are way too many technology platforms in existence today. Too many ‘tools’ and too many products. You have too many choices when it comes to getting your work done. Let’s take a quick second to glance at Scott Brinker’s MarTech 5000 landscape:
I’m sorry, but that’s just too many choices; especially when put in the hands of people that don’t really understand the long-term implications of multiple technology platforms.
Sure, there may be a formal selection process (in my experience, there’s not…or at least it isn’t followed) and rarely is there a strategic vision when it comes to MarTech. There’s a bunch of tactical ‘needs’ for why a particular type of platform is needed/wanted and even a hand-wave toward ‘strategy’ but rarely is there an in-depth review of how a new platform will make things better for the marketing team and the organization as a whole and (ahem…most importantly) help reach the strategic objective of the organization.
Too many choices can be a real problem. Need an ‘optimization’ platform for A/B testing (or other optimization issues)? I’m sure you can find 30 or 40 vendors out there selling some version of a platform that will do what you need it to do. Do you take the time to run a thorough selection process or do you find the first one that fits your ‘right now’ need and your budget and push ‘buy’? Based on my experience, people do the latter and pick the first one they find that does what they need to do. They find a solution to the problem they have today with very little to no thought put into how that platform will integrate into their broader organization’s ecosystem and/or whether the solution will solve their problem tomorrow.
Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I love the possibilities that these choices offer an organization, but only if proper governance is used when selecting and implementing these choices. Based on my conversations with clients and marketing / IT professionals over the last few years, there’s very little of this happening.
Over the last 3 years about half the projects I been asked to be a part of are projects to help simplify the ecosystem within an organization. I’ve seen companies with over 100 platforms being used within the marketing team with very few of those systems able to talk to each other — and the lives of the marketing team had become a living hell because they had too many systems, too little control of their data and too little insight into what they are able to do, how to do things and who to go to for help.
What’s the solution?
There’s not an ‘easy’ answer.
It will take hard work, focus and a real drive toward reducing the complexity within your marketing organization. Think of it as putting your team on a diet – a MarTech diet. When you ‘need’ (by the way – its rarely a ‘need’ and usually a ‘want’ in these cases) some new function that you just can’t live without – check your existing platforms before going out to buy some new tool. If you are absolutely sure you don’t have the functionality in your existing platforms, take a look at what you’re trying to do and think about if its an absolute need and not just a ‘want’. More importantly, think about the long term vision / strategy of the organization – how does ‘MarTech Platform X’ get you there? If you can’t easily answer the question, it might be best to try to find a way to do what you need to do with your existing ecosystem.