Over the last five to 10 years, companies have been spending more and more on technology to acquire, engage and retain customers. Increased pressure to achieve revenue and customer lifetime value objectives, a noisy marketing environment, and proliferation of new marketing technology tools, has created a perfect climate for technology experimentation, adoption and spending. In many cases, everyone in the organization – through the power of a credit card – has become a technology purchaser. Without discipline and strategy, this leads to excessive spending, duplicate purchases, redundant functionality and limited technology utilization.
With technology now consuming 29% of the marketing budget, companies are putting the brakes on independent purchasing and tasking marketing with establishing a formal technology evaluation and purchasing process that ensures that the ROI for technology purchases is aligned with business performance and objectives.
I’m surprised at how recent this process development is for many companies and thought it would be interesting to pull together a group of marketing operations leaders who have been tasked with developing a purchasing process to discuss how they approached this activity, and to learn what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what the challenges were along the way. We’ll be diving into this during our Martech panel, Avoiding Random Acts of Martech on Sept. 18, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the issues they’ve had to grapple with.
Who are the stakeholders, and what are their responsibilities? How many are too many? How do you avoid being bogged down by naysayers? How do you stop bureaucracy creeping into the system?
One or more processes
Is it possible to create a single process that supports the evaluation and purchasing of an expensive, complex product such as a marketing automation platform and is at the same time flexible enough to handle a $9.99 subscription for a product with limited features?
Distributed versus centralized purchasing
What’s the best organizational approach to technology purchasing – distributed or centralized? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? I’d vote for distributed purchasing with centralized oversight – it will be interesting to hear what my panelists think.
Best of breed versus single solution versus platform ecosystem
I happen to believe that the best approach to purchasing technology is a combination of best of breed, single solution and platform ecosystem but many organizations are hamstrung by opposing ideological beliefs. How do you work through a fundamental issue such as this?
Closing the gate after everyone has bolted
It would be nice to start with a clean slate and build a new process on top of that; the reality is that for most of us we are jumping into an environment that has been operating without a process for years. Where do you start? Is it necessary to go back and rationalize all the purchase decisions that have been made to move forward, or do you focus on the future?
It used to be that the number of products that could be purchased was gated by how many the IT department could install in any given period. Today, most products don’t require IT support, so how do you handle competing requests for new products? Is there a limit to the number of new products that can be integrated into the stack in any given year? Is it necessary to retire one product to bring in another?
Keeping everyone heading in the right direction
Several marketing operations executives have told me that it is an ongoing challenge to keep everyone moving in the right direction and adhering to a process. I’ve heard it described as herding cats or playing an eternal game of Whack-a-Mole. How do you keep everyone engaged in the process? How do you avoid renegade purchasing?
I’m sure there will be a lively discussion among our panelists with input from the audience. These are the nuts-and-bolts issues that are so important to developing and executing a coherent strategy.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone on the 18th!
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