Martech integration is so simple…isn’t it?

Read Time: 5 mins

Integration.

It’s such a throw away word.

Just plug this in,” says marketing, “You can just download the app.”

*But you can’t ‘just’ integrate systems* thinks IT, *it’s a lot more complicated than that*

IT gets a bad rep for being difficult and saying you can’t just connect things together and everything works like magic. Afterall, the marketing materials talk with such confidence about seamless integration.

And there lies the issue.

Marketers produce a lot of bluff about martech

Google any system, platform or technology and you’ll find endless articles about their features and benefits, and their ability to deliver omnichannel experiences, end-to-end journeys, multi-touch campaigns, personalisation and rich reporting through seamlessly integrating with your existing systems…

But there’s no substance there. There’s so few people actually cracking integration and getting it to work properly, because it’s so complicated.

We worked with one organisation that had 45 different technologies within its martech stack – many of them market leading platforms. To look at them you’d think:

*Wow! There’s an organisation at the top of their game. Compared to them we’re so behind.*

But in reality, they were a hot mess. When we told the IT team their biggest concern was how everything had been integrated because they hadn’t been involved.

There’s a huge misunderstanding about integration

Optimising and integrating systems is so much harder than you might think and it can’t be done properly without the assistance of IT. Integration is all about data and getting the systems to talk to each other. Only when you’ve done this can the information flow freely so marketing can gain the intelligence it needs to make more informed decisions.

Think about all the systems in your business now – martech or otherwise. Some will have a field called:

  • First Name
  • FirstName
  • FName
  • Preferred name
  • Name
  • Primary name

If you just plug those systems together, they don’t just know that these fields all contain the same sort of data, you have to tell them – and that requires code.

Now consider all the different fields contained within your systems…

Now think that you might want to pull some data about a website visitor from Lead Forensics, data about an opportunity from Salesforce, finance data from Xero and mix it into a big report within Marketo so you can update your nurture flows…

All of that data needs to be in the same format so it can flow between systems to the right place, and isn’t lost or open to attack while in transit…

Systems can’t just plug in.

Data is inherently complex

Data is getting more complicated, even more so when you consider new legislation like GDPR, which forces you to consider the roles of people who touch that data – what they collect and why, how it’s processed and then shared with third parties.

Even the word ‘data’ is too broad and ambiguous. Depending on who you talk to will define their understanding. For example, your financial controller will automatically think transactional data, whereas your sales manager will think about customer data, and HR will leap to employee data.

We’ll often ask our clients, “How’s your data?

And the universal response is, “Don’t ask.”

The reason – if you don’t know what ‘data’ is, how do you know what your systems are capturing? And how can you ever collaborate effectively with other departments for the good of the business?

But while integration is complex, it’s not impossible…

How to integrate your martech properly

It has to start with a different approach – instead of ‘just plug this in’, try ‘we’d like to do X’.

This problem is something you can unify the business around. At a minimum, you need to involve stakeholders from marketing, IT and legal/compliance from the very beginning, plus representatives from other departments that may be affected. Then clearly articulating the requirement, you can gain input from each specialist to ensure that everything has been properly considered, and potential risks mitigated before commencing the project.

Remember, once integrated, you’ll need to roll this out. Ensuring you have functional leaders aligned and engaged from the very start of the project is going to make the adoption process a lot less painful.

Discover more about how we achieve integration through process design…

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