The democratization of martech: the technology transition that empowers the “everyday many” to use the powerful tools that once belonged to the “elite few.” Reading Scott Brinker’s post on the democratization of martech here on ChiefMartec, I found myself shaking my head in agreement. Scott made an excellent case for the impact that democratization has had on IT and marketing technologists and the forthcoming transition for “traditional” marketers.
In his piece, Scott says:
“As more of these technologies are democratizing to power users and regular users, I believe an even bigger empowered marketer movement is emerging. I’m tempted to call this “the rise of the marketing maker,” an adaptation of maker culture to marketing, where every marketer has DIY superpowers to build and analyze digital experiences.”
Scott is absolutely correct. The democratization of technology is empowering our “in the trenches” marketers who handle campaigns every day, giving them the superpowers they need to launch more campaigns, better track results, and more easily prove ROI. But I think this democratization will also usher in a number of both challenges and opportunities across the marketing org chart.
Democratization Challenges and Opportunities
Think about the tasks that typically fall under the job descriptions in the roles listed below; I think it’s safe to say in five years, thanks to democratization and the evolution of technology, many of those tasks will be radically different.
Today, marketing technologists focus their time on executing campaigns. But as the tools become easier to use and “traditional” marketers are able to execute campaigns themselves, marketing technologists will be able to spend their time researching, testing and packaging new tools that will give their marketing organizations’ an edge over their competition.
More companies will need fewer marketing technologists. Specifically, this means that today, you may need two marketing technologists for every ten marketers and five years from now, you’ll only need one technologist for every ten marketers. But keep in mind that today, only the industry-leading marketers are fully utilizing marketing automation to support their program execution; five years from now, the rest of the industry will have caught up.
Integration: With the plethora of tools available and on the horizon, the marketing technologist must be adept at integrating tools into the martech stack and at getting varying APIs to exchange data and work together seamlessly.
Wide knowledge: Marketing technologists will need to shift from specialists on a particular set of tools to generalists on multiples tools, and will need to keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s available in the market. With their time freed up from the daily grind of launching campaigns and answering routine tech support questions, the pressure will be higher to provide greater value to the team. CMOs and others in the organization will be looking to the marketing technologist as the “go to” person for technology suggestions of which tools live up to the hype, which disappoint and which are worth a second look.
Low-value work to high-value work: Marketing technologists are uniquely positioned during this transition to become the “right-hand wo/man” to their data-driven CMO, by developing an understanding of what specific problems or goals the CMO is trying to solve or reach and helping ensure that the organization’s technology supports that.
Specifically, the marketing technologist has the chance to shift their role from providing highly necessary but often undervalued work—things like answering support questions for the team and setting up training—into high-value work like process optimization and customer experience improvement that can have a direct impact on revenue, ROI and your job—as well as your CMO’s.
Today, marketers develop the creative brief for campaigns but hand off the execution to marketing technologists. But when the transition occurs, marketers will create, execute and optimize their own digital experiences without the need for additional assistance.
Creativity: For years, marketing technologists have told marketers, “We can’t make it do that” or “The software won’t allow it.” But as the technology evolves, the pain and limitations involved in creating complex campaigns are being stripped away, and by the time that the technology makes it directly to the marketers, the biggest challenge will be deciding what to do first.
When the sky is the limit, it can often feel overwhelming to determine which options are your best. For many marketers, fully unleashing your creativity again after having to rein it in for so long may take some time and practice.
Empowerment: Because you’re in control of every aspect of your campaign for the first time—from the creative and targeting through the delivery timing, tracking the analytics and interpreting the data—you have the chance to continually learn and optimize, creating more and more compelling campaigns and delivering them faster. Marketers no longer have to worry if bottlenecks in the marketing technology team are impacting their campaign delivery times or wonder if there is some other insight that could have been gleaned from a recent report; they’ll know, first-hand, everything there is to know.
Today, CMOs typically have a clear idea of who they need to hire; a marketer for campaign development and a marketing technologist for campaign execution. Five years from now, however, the choice may not be as clear. As technology evolves and the lines between roles blur, CMOs will be able to tap anyone in their organization to help launch marketing campaigns. But will they?
Hiring: If technology is evolving in such a way that all marketers will be able to use and understand it, how does a savvy CMO make smart long-term hiring decisions? Do you hire all creatives, all technologists, a handful of each or a mix of both?
Good questions—and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as every business situation is different. There is this, however: the data, the technology and the technologists aren’t going anywhere—what democratization does is simply keep them at the centralized level where they’re behind the curtain pulling the levers, so to speak.
Perception of brand risk: Many CMOs worry that the more people who are empowered to represent the brand, the higher the risk for misaligned messaging. After all, you’d be crazy to give the brand new intern the keys to the company car and ask him to deliver a very important package, right?
Yes, you’d be ill-advised to give the intern to keys to today’s company car. But tomorrow’s company car—a self-driving vehicle with a pre-programmed route that allows him to get from Point A to Point B by one of only three routes minimizes your risk while maximizing your efficiency, effectiveness and return on investment. And your marketing software is quickly moving in that direction as well, making it much easier for you to feel confident about your decisions.
Revenue: When anyone in your organization has the ability to launch beautiful, on brand, on target campaigns, to learn from those campaigns, optimize future campaigns, and then do it all over again, every campaign gets better. And faster. And it stands to reason that if you’re able to launch more campaigns, you’re able to generate more revenue.
Ready or Not, Here it Comes
Scott is absolutely right when he says, “Everyone’s going to be a marketing maker.” Clearly, martech is continuing its natural evolution, and how your organization fares during this transition will depend on how you prepare and address the challenges and opportunities that come with it. The only thing that digging in your heels will do is ensure you’re toppled by the martech wave as moves forward. Instead, embrace the changes ahead and develop an understanding of how your own role and the roles of others in your organization may shift—by doing this, you’ll be able to capture all of the benefits this transition has to offer.