My key takeaway from MarTech East: Empowering others in an organization leads to innovation
Enabling an organization to self-serve - with training - was a theme throughout the conference as a path to foster innovation.
A major theme of my conference experience at MarTech East 2019 in Boston was enabling other people at my organization to self-serve their needs. This doesn’t surprise me as this was one of the main points of Scott Brinker’s opening keynote. He definitely set the tone for me.
Ceding such control to others requires some faith and patience. It also requires training. For instance, data analysis isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. During Ruth Burr Reedy’s session “Practical Lead Scoring in Google Analytics and Data Studio,” she emphasized that it is easy to correlate things that one shouldn’t or incorrectly draw conclusions. Further, someone not steeped in web analytics may misinterpret data and cause drama when it’s not warranted. Such fears aren’t irrational, but there are ways to grant this access with guidance.
One tactic is for the data analytics team to host regular workshops at a set time and cadence during which anyone can come and get expert help with their projects. Mary Blanks and Fran Sapir – both of Red Hat – provided some other tactics during their session “Marketing Enablement: Building Capabilities and Igniting Marketing’s Potential.” Both Blanks and Sapir emphasized the importance of addressing cultural concerns of training. A push for training shouldn’t threaten anyone’s view of their own competence. People need to understand how training will increase their ability to excel.
Cisco’s Kimi Corrigan used her session “How to Organize and Coach Outstanding Marketing Operations Teams” to tout the importance of inspiring team members to take it upon themselves to find ways to work more efficiently and effectively. Granting people access also requires explicit support of exploration and experimentation. Our jobs should have excitement.
An important potential outgrowth of empowering others to self-serve is that it can help foster innovation, which Altimeter Senior Fellow Charlene Li championed during her first day afternoon keynote. Granting access to others with tools allows them to conduct experiments, and that can help an organization grow and evolve. This echoes Reedy’s aim of equipping her session attendees with things they can do without a developer.
A warm community
The size of this conference made it easier – at least for me – to network with other MarTech practitioners. After writing an article previewing my panel discussion session, a few fellow attendees reached out to me via LinkedIn. Using the Brella app during the conference, we were able to schedule a time to meet and chat in person. Swapping stories both validated what my team and I are doing as well as reminded me that many of the challenges I face aren’t unique to my situation.
During both lunch vendor presentations I attended, I met people from various industries and parts of the continent. We also swapped stories but also discussed the presentations we were watching, which helped me see things from different vantage points.
As a speaker, I had more of an excuse to chat with other speakers. It was refreshing – but not surprising – to note that all those with whom I interacted with seemed nice and were genuinely interested in improving the field by sharing their insights.
It’s nice to know that the MarTech field while small is supportive.