Martech enablement series: Part 7 — Insights, intelligence and integration
In Part 7 of a nine-part series, contributor Peter Ladka digs into the systems that make up the 'dashboards' of your martech stack to bring martech enablement insights to your team.
Welcome to Part 7 of: “A Nine Part Practical Guide to Martech Enablement.” This is a progressive guide, with each part building on the previous sections and focused on outlining a process to build a data-driven, technology-driven marketing organization within your company. Below is a list of the previous articles for your reference:
- Part 1: What is Martech Enablement?
- Part 2: The Race Team Analogy
- Part 3: The Team Members
- Part 4: Building the Team
- Part 5: The Team Strategy
- Part 6: Building the Car
In these previous parts, we looked at how your martech team is parallel to an automobile race team. We spent time investigating how a race team constructs their team and then builds a strategy for winning their individual races and the overall race series. We then looked at how this is also a successful approach to constructing and strategizing for a martech team, identifying this process as “martech enablement.”
As we discussed in Part 1 of this guide, martech enablement is ultimately about obtaining insights and providing tools and processes to take action to affect your marketing efforts in your marketing organization. In Part 6, we discussed “building the car” with a focus on breaking down the systems in your martech stack that allow you to take action.
In this article, we will explore the systems that provide insights and enable team collaboration. We’ll also look at tying them all together with integration approaches, tools and strategies. Once again, a shout-out to Scott Brinker for producing the “Marketing Technology Landscape” to help make sense of all the martech products available.
Insights and intelligence
When you’re driving your car, a number of tools inform you how to take action. Looking out your windshield, windows and mirrors gives you immediate data that you respond to. Additionally, you have tools like your instrument dashboard, GPS, traffic data, your radio, and even your passengers.
Race drivers and the team as a whole have sophisticated systems in and around the car that are collecting information, as well as experts to analyze the information in real time, providing actionable insights that the team can use before, during and after the race. This is a huge part of the team’s competitive advantage that they use to win races.
Part of the martech enablement process is to leverage the data within your martech stack so that experts within your team can analyze that information to provide actionable insights, so your marketing organization can win your race.
To reiterate a point made in Part 6 of this guide, a solid data strategy is one of the most important components of martech enablement. This provides the foundation for extracting and “mashing” this data in a way that you can measure. A sound approach is to understand your organization’s KPIs (key performance indicators) and craft a data strategy that supports collecting data to enable measurement of those KPIs.
Many systems and categories of tools assist in the area of gaining insights. Below is a list of some of the systems used to provide visibility and understanding:
- Web analytics platforms
- AI/predictive analytics
- MPM — Marketing performance management
- Marketing attribution systems
- Business intelligence (BI) systems
- Data visualization tools
- Social media monitoring
- Sales intelligence
- Audience and market research data
As you progress through the martech enablement process, your “insights” toolset will grow in both size and maturity. I want to remind you to stay focused on letting this part of your stack evolve from the incremental team objectives and series and race goals. Don’t lead with a goal of creating a cool BI environment or dashboard. Let these grow out of the goals driving the martech enablement process.
Strategic vs. tactical insights
I want to spend a minute discussing the difference between strategic and tactical insights and their alignment with your team, series and race objectives. For a refresher on these, see Part 5 of this guide.
When measuring and analyzing performance against your team and series goals, you’re looking at strategic insights where understanding the current level and performance trend is desirable. Think in terms of tools that show you the results of your marketing efforts across time. A tactical insight will generally be more closely aligned with your race goals and will be a singular value or KPI.
Relating this to our race team analogy, a strategic goal could be wanting to improve the team’s average finish position from the current state to some future targeted goal. Over time, you could measure and graph the improvement and trend toward that goal.
A tactical goal might be the desire to come in third place or better in a particular race. Your insight tool could represent that number as a single KPI. That isn’t to say that you may never analyze performance trends during a race, such as average lap speed. But there are values that benefit from analyzing as a trend and others that are just fine to analyze as a current and ending value.
Team management and collaboration
When it comes to management and collaboration in the race team, both pre-race and race-day systems are needed to support the team’s operations. These tools are necessary to get things done right in your marketing organization. Good management and collaboration tools help great people be a great team. Here are some of those systems:
- Project management
- Collaboration tools
- Business Process Management (BPM)/Agile & Lean
- Talent management
- Vendor management
- Budget and finance
The nuts, bolts, welds, hoses and wires
It’s important to have a strategy and tools to hold all of this together. There are a few strategies to contemplate with systems integration and martech. Your marketing organization will likely take several different approaches to integration. These are generally broken down into three categories: native integration, IPaaS (integration platform as a service) and custom integration.
As technology matures, and the interoperability of products grows, companies are building “connectors” that allow for the exchange of data between their products and other widely used ones. These native integrations generally require some technical implementation or configuration, but the product manufacturers have done much of the heavy lifting to allow for the exchange of data between systems they have connectors for.
IPaaS is a “suite of cloud services enabling development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on-premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations,” according to Gartner. These platforms enable a more systematic way of creating and controlling data exchanges between products in your martech stack.
Custom development is as it sounds: a process in which software engineers develop custom applications to create and manage data exchanges between products and systems in your martech stack. Regardless of whether you take advantage of the aforementioned native integrations or IPaaS, you will likely at some level need to leverage good technologists to do some custom integration work along your path to martech enablement.
Stack it up!
To review, all the categories of the stack between Part 6, “Building the car,” and this part, “Supporting technologies,” your cohesive martech stack is composed of the following types of systems:
Intro to Part 8: Running the series and the races
Now that we’ve gone through the people, the strategy and the stack, we can move on to the execution part of martech enablement. In Part 8 of the guide, we’ll get into how your team iteratively and incrementally moves your marketing organization toward digital transformation and maturity.
I look forward to continuing to share with you about martech enablement in Part 8 of this guide.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech Today. Staff authors are listed here.