The case for outsourcing your marketing technology challenge

You may have been led to believe that investment in marketing technology will solve all your problems. Self-learning, AI based, flexible data-models, machine learning, blockchain compatible, Big Data enabled tech appears at face value to offer everything you need with minimal fuss.

The pitch is appealing. All the complex stuff about data models and statistics and customer journeys is taken care of by black-box technology that was built by ex-Tesla / NASA / MIT / McKinsey / Amazon / Uber / Google engineers and is being used (probably in a carefully controlled trial) by a selection of brand names you might recognise. A plug and play solution that will deliver improved marketing performance.

It’s all so simple.

Right?

Well not quite. All of this technology requires an installer and operator. Someone to get it up and running within the tangled mesh of all your other existing technology. And someone to configure it, use it, and check that it’s not doing anything that would amount to commercial suicide.

Avinash Kaushik, an evangelist for Google Analytics, recommended a 90/10 model for analytics technology investment. 90% on people. 10% on technology. He sees, and I agree, that the value is in the people rather than the tech.

I’m happy to be wrong on this point, but I’ve never seen any company getting close to the 90/10 ratio.

In fact given the choice; I’d personally choose an amazing, well resourced, creative team of marketers and techies with inadequate technology, than a poor team with great technology.

My suspicion is that the people side of the equation is more challenging than the technology challenge. That’s why it gets overlooked.

Hiring, developing and retaining talented marketers and technologists (or even a combination) requires real effort. More so the retaining element. Especially when compared with the task of selecting technology. I’ve never heard of a database handing its notice in because your competitor is willing to pay it more. Multichannel campaign management don’t get bored because they’re doing the same work everyday.

This is where I think the strategic use of marketing technology consultancies is crucial. Outsource the challenge of finding, hiring and retaining marketing technology specialists. The consultancies/agencies will be better at it than you. Their consultants will have experience across multiple clients keeping them both engaged in their work and giving them real-life solutions to problems posed.

Whilst I’m pleased that marketing technology is getting smarter and simpler, the truth is that there is a lot of complexity remaining in both selecting, implementing, running and optimising it. The people who are good at this are hard to find, hire and retain. Therefore finding a specialist partner can save you a lot headache and allows you to focus on the essence of what your business is good at.

David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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