Do you really know what martech you have?

Read Time: 5 mins

Performing a marketing technology landscape review for one of our clients, they believed there were only 3 core systems in the business – we identified 33. For another client, we revealed 45 separate technologies; they even had a team in place who was tasked with managing martech and even they were shocked at the scale of the issue.

“I don’t have the data”

A lot of companies come to us because they have a problem with reporting; either their systems aren’t properly integrated so data is lost; they’re not able to capture the right information to enable them to make decisions; there’s overlap in the platform capabilities and they’re duplicating effort; or they don’t have the end-to-end integration to determine return-on-investment. They think that if only they can implement marketing automation and CRM, it will fix the issue.


The problem that most organisations encounter is that they don’t know what technology they have in their martech stack. And if you don’t know what technology you have, you don’t understand its full capabilities, you don’t know who has access to it, you don’t know what data is captured or why.

Isn’t that IT’s job?

Within your organisation, IT should be overseeing the addition of any new technology into the infrastructure to ensure it’s properly evaluated, secure and fully integrated. Marketers will seek the assistance of IT when:

  • The systems they want are too big for them to implement alone, such as a marketing automation system.
  • Multiple users or several different business functions will use the platform, such as a CRM system.
  • Or a strategic decision has taken place higher up, dictating that the business as a whole is adopting a new technology, such as Jira.

But the majority of the time, marketers choose to go rogue…

Shadow IT is simpler

When experienced marketers join a new organisation they bring a lot of baggage with them. Whether it’s campaign ideas, messaging or marketing technologies; tried and tested tools they feel safe with. Marketing is often the department that’s not taken seriously – all we do is ‘colour in’. So we do everything possible to make ourselves look good and appear the hero. When starting a new job, we’re naturally going to want to implement the systems and platforms we know work, even if the organisation already has technology to fulfil those requirements.

And then in the process of doing the job, we discover something isn’t working as effectively as it could and seek ways to improve it. Perhaps we’ve checked Google Analytics and seen the bounce rate has risen from 40% to 60% in the last quarter, so we decide to add Live Chat functionality to the site to help visitors more and stop them from leaving.

But getting it past IT is a lengthily process – IT won’t understand why Live Chat is so important to the overall marketing plan, they’ll just say ‘no’, or they’ll make us complete a stack of paperwork and sit in countless meetings where we’re forced to answer technical questions that we don’t understand…

It’s easier to just do it ourselves – afterall, it’s not like we need IT’s help, we can just download the plugin, expense the amount and have the functionality that same day.

Shiny object syndrome is tempting

To be a good performing marketer it’s expected that you grab the latest tech and trial it. And since we are the people most susceptible to marketing communications, when we get a sniff of a new platform, app or innovation, FOMO (fear of missing out) kicks in and we’re the first to download it, trial it…and then tell the rest of the world so they know we’re at the top of our game.

But a lot of these trials rarely go beyond the pilot. Even if you’re not using the technology, it’s still there in the background collecting data, which is a GDPR nightmare waiting to become a reality. And because it’s been downloaded on a whim, there’s no objective in place to measure success against, which is why they don’t go beyond the pilot.

One of the biggest issues with shiny object syndrome from an IT perspective, is that many marketers don’t realise they’ve adopted new technology. Packaged as an ‘app’ or an ‘add on’ with a low price point – most offer a basic level for free – it wouldn’t even occur to them to trigger the IT governance process.

This misunderstanding caused by poor packaging means that many marketers aren’t considering the potential consequences of their actions. These apps and add ons are really easy to download and get into the environment, but once they’ve started to expand within your IT infrastructure, they can be really difficult to get out. Then there’s the missed opportunity; without properly evaluating the technology you might not realise if it has the capability to service the whole enterprise. And the potential to duplicate activities with other technologies that are already present in the stack.

Time to re-think IT governance

IT governance is all about the organisation having the ability to properly evaluate new technology before it’s plugged in to the existing infrastructure, and to then make sure it’s fully integrated in a secure and compliant way.

To ensure this process isn’t ignored for being painful, boring and unpleasant, it needs to be re-designed. It has to start with identifying all the technology you currently have, and then categorising it. With technology properly defined, it doesn’t matter whether something is presented as a platform, system, tool, app or add on, every marketer can understand the potential consequences of adopting it without following the governance framework.

For that framework to be followed, it has to be kept simple. We need to work quickly to capitalise on opportunities as they arise. So waiting 3, 6 or 12 months to get the new tech through IT’s current approval process means missed opportunities.

The revised IT governance framework should go back to the basic disciplines:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What is the business impact?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What data do you need to collect and how will it be processed?
  • What are the options facing you?
  • How do they align with what’s currently in the martech stack?

Organisations need generalists (marketers) and specialists (IT) to thrive. Creating a shared IT governance framework establishes commonality between the two business functions. Now, rather than clashing, the two can better collaborate to make the business a success.


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