By: Adam Sinnett, Director of Demand Gen

 

The Tech Stack Landscape

There are thousands of apps available for marketing teams. Scott Brinker, editor and writer for ChiefMartech, coined the phrase Martech 5,000, but as of 2018 there are over 6,829 apps for marketing teams. By the time you consider the sales, HR, customer, product and IT teams, there may be over 10,000 apps to choose from. The rapid proliferation and adoption of SaaS apps has made for a decentralized evaluation process and budgets, providing the budget and power to each individual team. There are pros and cons to a decentralized tech stack and management, but it’s up to each enterprise to balance these factors for what fits best for their teams.

The Azuqua platform can play many roles in a tech stack and every deployment becomes tailored to the customer’s requirements. Setting aside Azuqua for this blog post, let’s consider the pillars that go into a team’s success at building and managing a tech stack.

Pillars Holding It All Together

These are the pillars that will become the foundation of your successful marketing tech stack. This information is based on years of creating and modifying tech stacks for various B2B enterprises. Here are the four pillars (in priority order):

People – The people on a team (or company) need to be organized, trained and powered for success. Those are obvious points, but what’s critical and not always figured out are everyone’s roles and responsibilities. When considering apps, there will need to be administrators, and cross-team “ambassadors.” Identify these people and make sure that everyone is clear about roles and responsibilities. Last note, don’t forget about new hires and their working habits, change management is critical when evaluating what goes into your tech stack. 

Processes – We’re not talking about technology/tools yet — first we need to identify processes and understand how everyone’s roles fit together – this will ensure that you’re adopting a new technology with a purpose. It’s good practice to interview these people, shadow them and get to understand how the data and technology will fit their needs and processes. Especially the day-to-day users, their processes should be optimized and uniform across the team, before considering data and technology.

Data – Who needs the data, what reports are required, how can data be shared among the team? There’s a lot to this category and we don’t have time to get into all of the details. Many companies have a Data Chief/Czar. If you’re over $20M ARR, you should probably have a Data Chief that spans across a few teams. For your data, be sure to have a governance process and as much documentation as possible. This should include standardizing how new data needs to enter your org, how data is washed/maintained, and where it’s stored.

Technology – This is a blog post about Marketing Technology, so let’s get into the tech now. Your people, processes, and data are all organized and documented. This should be understood and shared among all of the “admins” on your team. Taking things in the order above will save a lot of effort keeping everyone on the same page and will help to avoid buying tools for the wrong reasons. Vendors and salespeople are well-intentioned, but they are selling and creating products from their point of view, not your team’s. Create a process for considering new tools and outlining how their value will be connected into your people, process and data. By starting with defining your process and people you will avoid demoing a technology that looks good but doesn’t fit your team or needs.

Trends in MarTech

Consolidation and the creation of mega-platforms – The large enterprises for B2B MarTech (Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe, Microsoft) will continue to expand via acquisition and building on their platforms. In my experience, this has been a mix of neutral, bad, and good. The potholes to watch out for are big companies who try to create a feature to compete with a small player who is #1 in their sub-category. There’s a balance that each team needs to find. Use your large MarTech vendor for what it’s core capability is, but consider niche solutions that are very specialized.

Duplication of Tech Vendors – This will always be a factor in any market. Ask questions about why the tool was originally created or what users were first to adopt the tool. If a tool got its initial start as a sales productivity tool but you’re considering using it for the accounting team then you might want to reconsider (or at least get a very thorough understanding of how this is going to align back to your people and processes).

More Tools – Yea, the market of tools and options will still grow but not at the same historical rate that we’ve seen in the last five years. This is creating red-hot-demand for how everything integrates and communicates. Adding new tools is great as long as they’re being used and providing value. But, it’s increasingly more important for CIOs and their IT teams to integrate these tools together to create a single source of truth, no matter what application you’re in or what team you’re on. If you’re considering adding new tools or getting rid of some, think first how that will affect your processes, and be sure to have an integration strategy in place.

Workflow automation – Eloqua, Marketo, HubSpot, and Pardot figured out workflow automation with their workflow builders. I’m very surprised that more of this didn’t cross over to other tools faster. Branching logic, if/then decisions, wait-steps, cross-referencing three or four reference points and many more functions should all be easy wins for apps, and the fastest growing companies are finding success at enabling this.

Workflow automation allows for more customization and you can tailor the automation to your business processes, enabling your team to be more productive. Automation, although a new concept, is a major competitive advantage and allows for actions to be completed downstream and are based on an action the customer takes, such as if a customer filled out a form, automatically send them an email, and add them as a qualified lead.

 

Conclusion

Having a good foundation and then a view of the future should give any team a great launch pad for starting to build a formal tech stack, or maybe you’re in the process of rebuilding. Annual re-evaluation is highly recommended because new solutions and consolidation of other tools are constantly changing.

Azuqua is the platform integrating and automating tech stacks for hundreds of enterprises. You can learn more and start your own free trial here.