Are You Digitally Redundant?
Marketing technology is full of shiny toys. The risk is often buying more than what you need, or more of what you already have even if you don't know you have it. It can become a race to digital redundancy.
As the landscape continues to get crammed with solutions that are progressively easier, faster, cheaper...it’s difficult to maintain focus. And with “the cloud” structuring access to almost all of it, it seems we are most often swayed to a menu of disposable or single-use solutions. Even "platforms" are becoming more about the comprehension of configurability than the confidence of a foundational tool chest. So the real value tends to reside in how well these toys play with others. And this is a value proposition that can result in a lot of buyer’s remorse.
I'm a very strong advocate for developing a marketing technology strategy before solutions are engaged or even tested. Too often organizations will consider only what they need right now when considering a digital solution for a competitive edge. Always going with best-of-breed is certainly an easy (and comfortable!) way to go, but it's not a strategy. And since remote hosting has made it easier than ever to set up a supported environment to run employed solutions, efforts are easily siloed and myopic.
So the risk is often buying more than what you need, or more of what you already have even if you don't know you have it. It can become a race to digital redundancy.
When considering a new technology solution, or even a strategy, a potential approach is to first ask:
- Will it replace?; or
- Will it transform?
Replace: "You’re fired."
Much of what technology provides today can simply be an upgrade from a system that is broken, obsolete or no longer supported. It may lend a solution that is faster, or more efficient, but still “fits” into existing processes and architectures such that it disrupts very little and essentially replaces old for new. But just because it may seem like for like, it still warrants a review of all adjacent systems to assess any overlaps or potential synergies. And the most difficult thing to do will be to "fire" unnecessary technology.
It's easy to take for granted what may seem to be working well with an "if it ain't broke..." kind of perspective. But is it still important to challenge every integration point so that you get the most out of the support that is required to maintain these systems. Support costs can quickly erode any perceived or realized benefits, and this becomes an exponential waste with too much redundancy. So though redundancy in IT-speak is not always a negative given the security and failsafe measures it will lend, it can contribute far less value to marketing engagements by diluting to an inefficiency that results in higher costs and degraded experiences.
Transform: Differentiate the whole.
Most companies I have worked with are not early adopters, and they are risk adverse enough to avoid first mover advantage when it comes to marketing technologies. And this seems to have proven a wise strategy given the consistent shifts in the marketing technology landscape over the last decade, and particularly the last five years. So patience is indeed a virtue, but it also highlights a bias to truly transformative technologies that can provide a competitive distinction.
There is a digital maturity that now prevails such that implementing the latest and greatest is no longer a competitive requirement. What has become more important is selecting technologies that can engage existing systems to perform better. Connectivity, and its corresponding "sum of the parts", needs to provide collective enhancement, not just an isolated improvement. And that is where the best marketing technologies are migrating -- cloud enablement that provides better compatibility to support a connected best of breed. So whatever configurability is employed by a new technology solution, understand first how it will make what is working today even better tomorrow so that redundancy is left to the guys in IT.