Making martech work: Building the right organisation capability

In the second in our series of exploring how to better your martech success, we look at the capability and change management required

Organisational capability is a key input into how martech platforms are harnessed and deliver returns. Yet all too often, companies fail to advance the capabilities of their teams or orchestrate the change management required for achieving next-generation ways of working in a data-fuelled, tech-charged and customer journey-driven marketing world.

In the second of our new series of features exploring marketing technology assessment and utilisation, we look at how you can build the right culture and internal capability to maximise your chances of success.

Align to journey orchestration

“If you buy the tech, you must create the culture,” Digitas CEO, Adrian Farouk, stresses. But what does the right capability and culture even look like at your organisation?

“Creating a journey orchestration-centric organisation requires content, data and your martech ecosystem to deliver the right message, to the right user at the right time, in the right context. This cannot be done solely through the purchase of a technology platform[s],” Farouk says.

“Journey orchestration can only be achieved through organisational capabilities to monitor, analyse and create experiences. Building these internal capabilities cannot be an afterthought and it is critical end users of the platform be part of the design process. Their involvement, and subsequent training, is key to ensure the integration with existing systems and operational processes.

“At Digitas, we use the analogy of the tandem bike: From day one, we ride together, with us steering from the front, until a point where we can swap to the back seat while you drive. When you are comfortable with the bike, we can jump off completely.”

Federated functional capability

For Deloitte partner, David Phillips, personalisation and automation at scale, driven by martech, is only realised when you have federated cross-functional capability in squads oriented around customer outcomes. These could be segment-based cohorts, value chain or by life stages, for instance.

“What’s important is a cross-functional group of people who are responsible for delivering the outcome through the lens of customer,” Phillips explains.  

Roles sitting around that start from the centre and include core brand asset work; strategy and insights; ownership for each of your core martech platforms, and a manager responsible for troubleshooting, licensing, maintenance, features and utilisation.

“Then if you move out to the squads, the chapters we run would include a project / scrum owner; CX or customer strategy, use case development and hypothesis; at least one martech developer; then a couple of campaign specialists depending on what your stack is; plus people who can do basic layouts and copywriting work,” Phillips says.  

“All those squads do is pump out experiments. So if you’re a retailer, the question might be how you increase the frequency of Mums in the outer suburbs from once per month to 1.2 times per month through all channels. Those squads run everything end-to-end for that experiment. The content comes from the centre, but it’s the squads that work out how to turn the different experiments and optimise to get the outcome. That group / squad also has to be on the hook for that customer outcome.”

Phillips says this the only way he’s seen progress truly made off the foundations of martech. In other words, deep platform capability in the middle; experimentation crews behind the cohort or customer outcome in the organisation’s sights; and a scaling and production team underpinning them.

“Using martech, we’re very good at running experiments but when we’re setting up fixed automation, there needs to be a lot more data, back-end development work as well,” Phillips adds.

Capgemini director of digital experience, Konrad Dsa, has also seen a lot of success come by having a core team that handles the more technical functions of the system, enabling marketing teams to build campaigns at scale.

“A lot of challenges come when you try to force marketing teams to be technical teams. Both require different skillsets. Unicorns that do both exceptionally well exist, but are rare,” he comments.

Owning governance

Governance is as equally important a capability, given rules and processes must be mapped end-to-end rather than just in certain systems. A martech ecosystem could sometimes see companies working with 12 different products and / or departments just to roll out one campaign, Dsa says. Not to mention agency involvement.

“The governance should look across the scale from strategy to execution,” Capgemini’s VP and head of frog creative and experience consulting division, Jason Ross, continues. “For example, you might say, ‘OK, we want our strategy to be very much owned by us as a company, but we want our executions very much to be handled by the agencies that very often operate these platforms’.

“This is a measure of maturity as well – because where there is a low level of maturity, it's very unclear who does what and why, and vice-versa.”

Adopt learning metrics

Culturally, Ross believes one of the biggest changes required alongside martech capability development is a thorough learning and experimentation mindset. That doesn’t just occur naturally – you have to implement and then constantly measure it.

“Learning and teaching within the business is a great metric. Often, clients hire people with martech skills and expect those hires to drive up the organisation’s maturity. But that's not a structured way of driving up the maturity of the organisation,” Ross argues. “So, outside of the people you hire, what are you doing to drive up the importance of marketing and its technology? How are you bringing all marketing, customer and IT teams on that journey?”

Understand maturity of capability against business needs

Gartner’s Maturity Model for Marketing Technology is another source that paints talent and organisation capability as a clear dimension to building martech maturity. At level one maturity, the analyst firm describes an adhoc marketing technology team as forming and conducting periodic yet incomplete audits.

“Pockets of martech continue to exist in opaque siloes, resulting in acquisition of disparate technologies with overlapping features and challenges to make progress in planning,” Gartner VP, Benjamin Bloom, says. “By contrast, at level five, martech stakeholder participation democratises and governs the process of buying technology, empowering lines of business to represent their technology needs with functional input from finance, regulatory, CX and regional representation.”

Given how much of a chasm still exists between martech project metrics and business metrics, Triggerfish co-founder, Anthony Hook, highlights the need for someone to unite both as a key capability alongside your physical martech stack.

“The closer you can get your martech metrics and business metrics together, the more inspectability and observability you have on how that’s helping transformation,” he says. For Hook, this requires someone who can “see the void between tech and the business”.

“If you have implemented technology where you can see the site, conversion, traffic is growing, then that’s one set of metrics or scorecard determining success of the martech tools. That should be table stakes – it’s not for most people, but it should be,” he says.

But what’s also needed is what Hook calls an ‘Entrepreneurial Operating System’. Triggerfish helps clients develop this using Rockefeller Habits and through business scorecards and clarity of vision.

“It’s about saying what is the three-year plan, one-year plan and quarterly plan for the business, and the scorecard, which is a combined set of metrics for everything from purchasing, finance, distribution, customer service, marketing, campaign efficiency and the business itself,” Hook says. “By creating a 15-metric scorecard list, that’s how you bring that gap closer together.”  

The importance of seniority

As such a scorecard makes plain, there’s the necessity of seniority and executive influence when investing and building out martech capability in an organisation too.

“If you have people who are not senior, it’s typically a waste of time and a distraction you could be outsourcing,” Hook warns. “You really need to start with someone in that martech seat – senior consultant or advisor. They ideally have a seat at the executive table, or sit directly under the CMO or CIO, and can holistically look at tech opportunity across the business and demonstrate improvements in efficiency, profitability and so on through use of tech. They should be able to manage vendors as well as any people you choose to hire.

“You may hire a small development team to look after core IP, then have an outsourced relationship for other pieces.”

Buy versus build

And speaking of the buy versus build debate, the question of how much technical capability to build in-house versus outsource is going to depend on what your organisation sees as its IP and business.

Triggerfish has cloned the phrase ‘working on the right things’ to help clients figure this out. Hook uses a Formula 1 analogy to illustrate the difference.

“If you’re an aspiring race car driver and you want to go compete in the Formula 1, there are those who understand that you need a pit crew, engineering team, sponsorship, marketing team and all the people sitting around you – those are the people that get you to the racetrack,” Hook says.

In Triggerfish’s sister business, Dataweavers, a diagram is also used to show clients where they’ve invested their capability and time around technology to help understand if they’re working on the right things.

“If everything on the left-hand side is made up of devops, engineering, operations, and this is the stuff you spend 80 per cent of your time doing, then only 20 per cent of time is spent on what you should be doing – developing core IP and experiences for your business,” Hook says.

“It’s really easy for dev teams to focus on the 80 per cent because it’s what they think they’re good at. But in reality, it should be the other way around. You should spend 80 per cent of time on your core IP and differentiators for your business, not working on the pipes. Even the biggest organisations are often spending their time working on the wrong things. That is where problems arise and people think the tech is useless.

“But when tech teams have to start focusing on building core IP – better user experience, call centre integration or IVR – they have to think. And it’s not a solo sport either, it’s a team sport. Because if you’re going to solve challenging customer experience problems, that requires collaboration and constant work together.

“At the end of the day, what measures and outcomes are you looking for? More customers, higher average transaction value, more repeat customers and so on. That’s the IP teams need to be focused on building.”

Marketing and IT must get together

And ultimately, capability development and a change in mindset towards being customer experience-oriented is going to require marketing and IT to need to get closer to each other, Switch digital strategy leader, Jon Holcombe, says.

“The excuse of ‘it’s not my bag’ won’t fly anymore. Neither can sit in their fiefdom and not come over to the other,” he warns. “A lot of mature, big organisations are already there. As an agency, we typically work with organisations who are a bit earlier on the evolutionary path and they still don’t have anyone responsible for CX in the organisation. And it could end up being weighted to marketing rather than true CX metrics.”

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