Imagine that your marketing team has the ideal technology stack. The customer experience is seamless across every device and channel. Your analytics give you insight into every touchpoint of the customer journey. All your software is integrated, redundancies are eliminated, disconnects are connected, and bottlenecks are gone. It’s a nice dream, right?
With the right marketing technology team, you can bring a lot of that dream to life. Probably even more of it than you think. Assembling an effective group of martech heroes takes some work, but you can do it. Just like you would map out the ideal future state of your marketing technology (martech) stack, you can map out the people and team structure you need.
Building your team
To start, you need a decision maker who bridges the gap between marketing and IT operations. If your company doesn’t have a marketing technology officer (MTO), it might be time to consider hiring one. From there, you need admins, product owners, IT support, project managers, and the people who will use the software the most (or power users). Then you can build your stack, implement successful integrations over time, and follow through with effective change management.
The decision maker (marketing manager/director or CMO)
You need someone that owns the strategy and budget for your technology and your headcount. If your organization is ready, hire an MTO. If not, make sure your decision maker has the skills to navigate the space between marketing and IT operations.
They may remove themselves once the conversations get tactical, but you absolutely need them during the ideation stage. If you don't involve them early, you’ll need to convince them afterward — and no one likes putting their time into a big project only to have it rejected by the boss. So, when you’re building out your ideal tech stack, seek approval and support from the start.
The admin (solution admins or product owners)
You need individuals who own and manage each martech solution. They represent the nature of each software, its audiences, its configurations, and its use cases. If you can, dedicate one person to own each martech solution, including: your customer relationship management (CRM) system, customer data platform (CDP), digital asset management (DAM) system, product information management (PIM) software, and so on. Whenever you add to your tech stack or make a change, they’re the voice of your product. They help guide you through new integrations and effective change management.
Note: If a new software integration idea impacts the admin of another system, be sure to bring them into conversations immediately. When sharing the ideas and project details, begin with how and why the integration creates value for both platforms. The reality is, an integration impacts both apps. The owners of both products need to be true believers of the integration to avoid roadblocks in the long run.
The tech experts (IT support, developers, or a third party)
You’re going to need IT support to integrate your marketing technology. In an ideal martech world, you have dedicated IT support. In the real world, most of us need to secure bandwidth from IT — and that can be a struggle. You can hire a third-party developer … when you have a budget. It’s usually easy to get buy-in from IT in this case. As long as you’re not changing tech they depend on, and adhering to security protocol, they shouldn’t have any qualms about the work getting completed.
If you’re just fine tuning the stack and not implementing a full-blown integration, you might be able to add refinements to the technology yourself. And, even when you hit a wall and need IT support, it’s still good to know how to talk about APIs.
You need a project manager
Often overlooked, a project manager (PM) is an important resource for large-scale martech teams. Someone has to corral all the back-and-forth communications with vendors and stakeholders. Dependencies across app owners need to be tracked and timelines need to be set.
Admins or product owners often get thrown into this role, but their skillset may not fit this responsibility. Furthermore, their leadership may incubate notions of potential biases (“all they care about is their platform’s needs”). Having a PM as a neutral party during the implementation phase can help even the playing field.
Make sure you have the right people running your marketing technology. Does your email marketing manager have an entrepreneurial mindset? Can your content production manager talk Agile with the software teams? Look for people like this, and then listen to them whenever you make a change to your tech stack.
When you’re planning on a software integration that requires some heavy lifting and big process changes, bring these people to the table from the start. Listen to what they have to say. You hired them to know the software better than you, trust their judgment even when it means you have to adjust your vision.
And if they’re left out of the process? You’ll most likely run into adoption issues in the long term, costing money, time, and partnerships. Not to mention, you could miss out on the full benefits of what the software can and should truly do. So talk to your power users. Their collective insight will make it easier to build your stack.
Prepare for compromises
Now that your people stack is ready to roll, let’s talk about something each member of that team will need to do: compromise. When you’re building a marketing technology stack, team members are going to have to compromise on their “requirements.” This is where your marketing tech evolves or fails.
Get prepared for your IT folks to prove that certain elements of your idea are technically impossible. Department heads are going to be unhappy about process changes they need to make. There are going to be moments where people need to hold hands, force a smile, and get on board.
No integration or technology stack is perfect. Ever. Anywhere. That’s why compromise is an essential requirement. A beautifully designed integration makes angels sing, but it only happens when your people stack designs that integration as a team.
Handling change management
Your resources are in place, your team is on board, and you’ve started to integrate a new solution. Good, just don’t plan on stopping there. Whenever you integrate new software you have to do this one last piece well: change management. Even with the most enthusiastic team, if you’re not thinking about the launch and long-term adoption of your integration, you run the risk of it never being accepted.
The purpose of an integration is to reduce redundancies, disconnects, and bottlenecks. But, don’t pretend that it won’t impact someone’s regular day-to-day. Whether “the button for the thing used to be here and now it’s there” or certain processes are moved from one platform to another, change is inevitable.
While the greater good (which often includes cost savings) is a worthwhile outcome of an integration, it still changes things. And change is hard. Your users will need new training. Documentation will need updating. A formal launch with visible support from senior leadership might be required.
Change management takes focus, and it’s worth doing well. Prosci, a global leader in change management, has studied project sponsorship over the last two decades. They’ve found that with “poor” change management you only have a 15% chance of meeting or exceeding your goals. With “excellent” change management, you’ve got a 93% chance of success.
If you brought your power users in from day one (as we recommended above) then you’ll have positive momentum into this challenge. But, don’t rest on a single kickoff meeting. Excellent change management requires consistent engagement through the integration and a clear strategy for what to do after the technical work is done.
Want help mapping your stack or team?
Once you’ve got your team framed out, it’s time to map out your tech. Your map needs to be useful, shareable, and clear enough to help you secure your budget. That’s much easier said than done. Especially at organizations with multiple lines of business, legacy software, and in-house solutions running the show.
I’ve seen marketing technology maps that span multiple whiteboards (and they’re not even “complete”). Do you really need to map every step in the process? Do you include the servers and IT resources or just the apps? Should you include run costs for all the software? It’s hard to decide what level of detail to include in your map. It’s also a crucial thing to get right.
We can help you map your tech and your people, and help you identify the right technologies to meet your business goals. If you already know what you need, we’ll help you get everything in place and implement change management to help ease the transition.
Widen has grown through over 70 years of change and we know that the people behind the tech matters most. Our team has helped organizations like Hootsuite, HARMAN International, Brooks Running, and the Houston Texans with their technology stacks.
If you want someone on your side with decades of experience, the Widen Consulting team is ready to help. today to get started.
Note: This article was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated to include additional information.