For technology leaders building a digital experience technology stack, life's a little bit like Legos. You can buy the box and build what the box tells you to build. Or you can use your own ingenuity and go to the back of the Lego Store — the spot with the bins, where you can choose the different pieces you really want to buy so you can construct something that’s more impactful and innovative for your market.
Last month, I wrote about mashing up technologies to improve customer experience, but I’m taking it a step further to address the evolving priorities of how you might do it. I’m thinking about a best-of-breed strategy from the vantage point of the Lego box in the playroom.
Making Sense of the Tech Landscape
If your organization is going through a tech refresh for digital initiatives, you have serious choices — far more than you’ve had in the past. Enterprises are continually changing, updating and investing in their tech stack. You can’t end a team meeting without someone mentioning a hot new tool, a new silver bullet. Every Silicon Valley martech whiz with a pocketful of VC has something new they want to sell you. This isn’t slowing down.
You have choices, of course. Will you go with the giant all-in-one martech or marketing cloud vendor suite, comparable to the giant new $800 Millennium Falcon Lego monstrosity? That’s great, if you want an off-the-shelf Millennium Falcon box that looks like everyone else’s off-the-shelf Millennium Falcon.
Sure, going all in with an all-in-one digital experience platform may be alluring — only one vendor to pay, only one overarching system to deal with, and fingers-crossed hoping they’ve figured out the integrations and cross-platform data sharing. In reality, is one vendor going to offer the best solution across your marketing technology needs? The technology buyers and users I talk to say: Probably not.
Additionally, all-in-one solutions can be restrictive, and there’s little room to gain a competitive edge over the industry status quo. Often when organizations move to an all-in-one software provider, they feel forced to “rip and replace,” tearing down existing infrastructure, spending significant time and money integrating new technologies, migrating content — creating headaches for IT and marketers. The benefits don’t outweigh the drawbacks relative to competitive advantage, time, money and frustration.
Pick Your Path — What Will You Build?
The decision on how to build your digital experience tech stack is a defining moment for a brand. This separates the innovators from the laggards, and winners from losers. Whether you’re a marketer or tech leader, stop and pause here to realize the importance of this moment for your business’ growth.
The strongest solution just may be to make a few, awesome Lego creations of your own. That means, take the best technologies and products from a variety of providers, and integrate these modular pieces to work together as an even stronger, more flexible solution. This best-of-breed approach offers the strengths from many providers — whether that’s a great cloud platform, web content management, CRM, email marketing, personalization or journey orchestration provider — and integrates them for unbeatable digital experiences. Ultimately, best-of-breed can maximize business performance for the customer experience.
By taking a best-of-breed approach, your organization capitalizes on the tools and investments you’ve already made and empowers you to onboard new tech as needed. Best-of-breed is the best of both worlds — the foundation of your technology stack can stay in place and connect with the right tools, allowing you to build and scale experiences across the customer journey.
Envisioning a Best-of-Breed Strategy
Now that you’re armed with more information about your choices, here are five key focus areas as you rethink and plan your tech stack:
1. Stay Ahead of Changing Development Preferences
From open source to proprietary solutions, development preferences are shifting fast. Developers on your team (or your agency partners) can help advise you on this. The landscape is shifting to adopt a wide range of open source solutions, which allows organizations to extend the martech stack in creative ways that can lessen the effort and help you launch new capabilities and experiences quickly.
2. Listen to Your Technical Architects
They are kingmakers, who ultimately decide what stays and goes. Technical teams are in the know on what works well with your existing technology and can help align prospective solutions with your business challenges, ways you may not be aware of.
3. Don’t Forget the Marketer
Marketers have their hands in using a variety of digital tools every day, so they need opportunities to voice what works and what doesn’t work to be effective in their roles. Don’t make any sudden tech decisions without their input.
4. Bring the Technical and Marketing Teams Together
Orchestrating digital experiences takes a cross-team approach that brings technical and business-oriented minds together. Whether you’re building a website or a full, end-to-end omnichannel strategy and the platform underneath it, it’s going to take a united team to talk through the strategy, tech selection, implementation and integration.
5. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
What is your goal going into a new project? Are you attempting to gain a competitive edge, or do you want to look just like your competitors? State your goals from the beginning, and repeat it as your mantra to guide the choices you make throughout the process. And ask these questions: Are we looking for Legos-in-a-box? Or are we assembling the best set of technologies that help us drive competitive differentiation in a look-alike world?
With today’s rapidly changing marketplace, it’s more important than ever to equip your team with technology that enables agility and integrates with the best tools to meet your organization’s goals. Your choice affects the day-to-day of your marketing team, customer experience team, IT team, and, most importantly, your customers. Go to the back of the Lego Store, and find those separate pieces that you really want to build with. Architect the ultimate customer experience that drives meaningful ROI for your organization and pushes beyond the competition’s off-the-shelf Lego box.