Article

Andrew Addison
Andrew Addison 29 November 2023

From Success to Setback: Lessons in MarTech Decision-Making

We often talk to clients about the consolidation of MarTech capabilities across vendors, to the point that it’s often not too difficult to pick up a new technology if you’re comfortable working with an alternative. But it would be wrong to say that all technologies are the same.

At Purple Square, we selectively choose the partners we work with because they are absolutely not the same, each has its own unique capabilities, whilst also having its own unique limitations.

Evaluating Marketing Technologies

Technologies should always meet the business and technical needs of an organisation, in the same way we evaluate people during the hiring process.

However, unlike recruitment, we rarely have a probationary or onboarding period that enables us to understand fully if the technology meets our needs as much as we hoped during the procurement phase. The impact of these decisions can be far reaching, directly affecting our marketing operations and customer experience.

This was highlighted to me recently in two separate and unrelated conversations, I will neither mention the client, nor the software vendors involved, but in both cases it demonstrated the problems associated with making, what is subsequently identified as an incorrect Martech decisions.

When MarTech is Not Fit For Purpose

In the first instance, “Client X” had made a decision to go all-in with “MarTech Platform X”, very successfully in the initial period, with existing capabilities being replicated fully and the team well engaged, trained and enabled.

Client X was then moving into the next phase of delivery (all within the originally planned business case) at which point it was assumed that the vendor would be fully engaged to deliver the subsequent activities. Alas no, the vendor realised that their extended capabilities were not fit for purpose and withdrew from the next phase of delivery.

I have a huge amount of respect for any organisation that is transparent about their limitations, there is nothing worse as a vendor consultant, realising that you’ve been tasked to deploy something you know will be a challenge to maintain or manage on an ongoing basis.

However, as far as the client was concerned, the vendor had let them down badly, the reputation was tarnished and the client went back out to market after two years to replace the platform.

When a Platform Can’t Scale to Meet Your Specific Needs

In the second instance, “Client Y” engaged “Vendor Y” to replace a long term incumbent MarTech platform that they felt was no longer fit for their future digital purpose.

Termination notices were sent, project teams were pulled together, and new software licenses were procured. Unfortunately during the initial deployment, the Vendor recommendation was for the Client to simplify their requirements in order to meet the functional capabilities of the platform.

Whilst a level of due diligence was performed, the reality was that the target platform was not able to scale to meet the business needs.

In this case the client was able to break the contract, however it was not so easy to go back to the original platform provider with cap-in-hand and request a continuation/restart of their legacy agreement.

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