If marketers use it, yes, it’s martech
As long as they bring vision, commitment and orchestration to the tool set.
A lot of opinions have been expressed recently about the types of tools that are considered martech. For instance, are project management platforms like Workfront and JIRA martech? What about collaboration platforms (as tools – not just channels) like Slack? I think they are. Making this affirmation requires a combination of vision, commitment, and orchestration. Imagination and out-of-the-box thinking couldn’t hurt either.
There’s a reason why large martech companies like Adobe and Salesforce are gobbling up the various companies behind tools ranging from DAMs to multivariate testing to CDPs. For example, Adobe just acquired project management company Workfront. A major reason for it is that it hopes to develop an ecosystem to empower robust experiences.
An ecosystem with CMS, DAM, analytics, multivariate testing, and audience segmentation capabilities could enable automated personalization across multiple channels. The big players hope to serve as a one-stop shop for that, but there are also integrations — which aren’t created equal — that could allow products from multiple ecosystems to produce a comparable synthesis.
In-house and agency marketers could also envision how to harness products that aren’t obvious martech. For example, I once saw a product that pulls alerts from multiple paid search platforms into one place — a collaboration tool. If a paid search specialist is using Teams for most of their other work, wouldn’t it be nice if alerts and reports from Adwords and Facebook campaigns also were posted there? Why not have them posted to a team channel for broader coverage? That helps strengthen the case for categorizing these evolved instant message tools as martech.
Vision is just a dream without commitment.
Integrating various tools and systems requires a commitment to implement and maintain. It requires buy-in and prioritization from various departments including IT and Legal, as well as the multiple teams that may “own” the different elements and cogs of the desired integration. All of these stakeholders have different lenses, agendas, and priorities, which may make it hard to align resources for a project. Over time it’s hard to maintain organizational readiness, dedicated ownership, and value. Buying is easy; implementation takes commitment.
Despite our best intentions, we all work in an environment with shifting priorities, evolving customers, and organizational goals. Furthermore, there’s personnel turnover. The person with the vision and/or know-how may leave before the project commences or concludes. That also affects commitment.
Many martech practitioners will no doubt point out rightly that commitment is not just for in-house marketers. The big martech players that gobble up a variety of companies to add to their suites also need to commit to the vision that inspired an acquisition.
Vision and commitment alone don’t guarantee turning an ordinary product into a robust martech tool. Orchestration is also crucial — both for big martech firms and for their customers.
Orchestration includes documenting and mapping a vendor ecosystem and organizations’ martech stacks. Beyond tracking existing and potential integrations (and, as mentioned above, the nature thereof) between components, this practice helps audit skills, contracts, and functionality. This is all essential for making visions reality, and commitment fruitful.
For example, a lot of different professions use project management systems — making a case both for and against categorizing them as martech. Of note, creative teams in marketing departments typically require one with robust features involving request forms, project flows, dynamic approval regimes, interactive proofing capabilities for a whole host of stakeholders, and sequential process management — among other functionality.
However, with vision, commitment, and orchestration, a project management system could start a cascading process that publishes completed and approved assets to a DAM with associated meta data that a CMS, audience manager, testing platform, and DSP can harness for automated cross-channel campaigns. The broader stack could then trigger projects for new asset creation when usage rights approach expiration, conversion rates wane, and new customer segments emerge. Understanding this from an orchestration perspective can yield many multi-directional possibilities.
Sticking with an orchestrator’s view of project management systems. It’s important to note that a creative team’s project management system is likely rather cumbersome to other teams – like conversion testers and social media managers. They don’t require as many bells and whistles. This may justify functionality overlaps within a martech stack by adding simpler, nimbler project management systems. With orchestration, stack overlaps are more likely to present opportunities than challenges – even for debatable martech.
Go with “Yes”
Marketers don’t need to monopolize the use of a product for something to qualify as martech. Marketing departments can use a variety of systems like collaboration and project management platforms — which perhaps are owned by other departments — as martech. This requires vision, commitment, and orchestration. As boring as that sounds, why not see the fun of working smarter and more effectively using the same tools y’all are already using?