By Kimberly A. Whitler, Forbes/CMO Network
Marketers are being placed at the center of technology-related decisions with increasing regularity. While much has been written about the increased responsibility, there has been little discussion about how marketers can facilitate better technology investment decisions. To better understand how marketers can lead these efforts through the development of marketing tech blueprints, I turned to Scott Vaughan, the CMO of Integrate. Below are his thoughts (and a terrific example from CA CA -0.58% Technologies).
Kimberly Whitler: What is a marketing tech blueprint?
Scott Vaughan: There are thousands of marketing technology providers and new ones emerging every week as marketing functions are deploying technology to increase efficiency and performance. A marketing technology (MarTech) blueprint is a simple visual diagram – captured from a white board photo, organized in PowerPoint or a good old-fashion schematic – that outlines current tech, systems, processes and data flows utilized or needed by marketing. By documenting and visualizing systems and processes, marketers can quickly capture the current state of their marketing technology, identify gaps, overlaps, and chokepoints, and, most importantly, have a single view of their technology investments.
Whitler: Why should marketers use MarTech blueprints?
Vaughan: With an increasing investment in marketing technology to automate marketing and data processes, Blueprints document and visualize current marketing architecture, the ways systems, tools and data connect with each other (or don’t), the processes they support, and how they affect customer experience and marketing’s ability to add value to the business.
At a time when new marketing technologies and providers come on the scene rapidly, Blueprints enable marketers – and all stakeholders – to prioritize often-competing requirements to fix or bring new capabilities to advance marketing and the business. These requirements come in the form of needed tech investments, silo-busting integrations, strategic shifts or new capabilities required to support customers.
Whitler: How specifically do blueprints impact the process?
Vaughan: They actually help bring important questions to the surface such as:
1. What tech and processes are required to deliver a unique customer experience and the ability to identify and create customers?
2. Which configuration of technology, processes and workflow give us the data needed to make smarter decisions and better serve customers?
3. Which are the mission-critical pieces of technology that you couldn’t do business without?
4. Are we using and optimizing what we have – scope, scale, geographically, and enablement?
5. What’s integrated and what’s not to get a full customer and marketing performance view?
6. Are there duplications we can consolidate or eliminate for efficiency?
7. How do we configure marketing tech and processes to integrate with the rest of the organization?
8. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, Blueprints are powerful internal and external communications tools. They are used to provide a “single view of the truth” for all stakeholders involved in the marketing process, including the teams utilizing the technology and the executives who are evaluating investments for ROI and business impact. In addition, there is incredible power in sharing with current and prospective MarTech vendors and asking, “Where does your tech solution or tool fit in?” or “How does your tech add value or replace existing providers in our current environment?”
Whitler: Do you have a case study regarding how a marketing tech blueprint helped a firm perform better (basically, what are the noticeable benefits and outcomes)?
Vaughan: A good example is the marketing team at CA Technologies, a global provider of IT software and services. This team utilizes an ever-evolving MarTech blueprint of their tech “stack” and processes to help guide and prioritize their investments. The CA marketing team realizes that their business, their customers and marketing practices and technology are always changing. Beki Scarbrough, VP of Integrated Marketing at CA, sums it up well: “The rate of change in MarTech combined with the dynamic needs of our customers, and ultimately our business, is so fast that we are always thinking about what’s next. I can’t imagine having MarTech, digital, product development, operations, IT teams, all with their roadmaps and systems connecting to our marketing stack without a blueprint. That would lead to absolute chaos.”
Cynthia Gumbert, VP of Marketing Technology & Demand Analytics at CA Technologies, presentedCA’s MarTech Blueprint and their approach at the MarTech Conference in San Francisco earlier this year. She highlighted the “why” and how Blueprint-driven thinking has helped the CA marketing team innovative and increase performance and contribution to the business.
Whitler: If a marketer wanted to create one, what advice do you have?
Vaughan: To get started, marketers should take inventory of their current technologies and processes and document them in a simple visualize diagram. This involves research and collecting info via interviews and using internal docs. They can collect “wish list” items too for efficiency and keep a running list.
Once developed, a MarTech Blueprint provides little value unless it is used to discover areas of improvement. It’s important to analyze a blueprint to determine what’s manual, what’s not working as it should be, what could be working better and what are upcoming requirements. There answers will help identify opportunities to improve customer experience and operational efficiency with new or consolidated tech investments, new or redesigned processes and innovative ways to provide data and workflows to improve marketers’ effort.
Once you have a solid version, you also need to share and socialize the Blueprint. This opens up more focused dialog and reduces talking in abstracts. There is one version of the truth of what MarTech and processes is in place, what’s required and what’s possible. Walking through it with internal (execs, other departments, your marketing peers) and external (current and prospective tech and data partners) stakeholders you work with provides a simple tool for these stakeholders to easily absorb information that may otherwise be hard to understand without a visual guide.