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PHOTO: Milivoj Kuhar

For the first time in eight years, Scott Brinker’s famous Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic didn’t grow by a double-digit percentage — but that doesn’t mean that constructing the right suite of platforms for your organization isn’t as daunting as ever. How we work and the platforms we choose to work on are both constantly evolving and virtually every marketing and branding function — from data analytics to content creation — now has a buffet of solutions to sample and plug into your business.

With over 7,000 martech platforms and services for companies to choose from, it’s tempting for marketers to try everything at once to improve various functions of their businesses. But without paying thoughtful attention to the problems these solutions solve, organizations will end up with a series of siloed platforms with low adoption rates, ultimately creating fragmented and frustrating experiences for employees and customers alike.

The most successful companies don’t necessarily have the most marketing technology. Rather, they have the most effective process for managing a marketing technology ecosystem. As leaders embark on a martech stack revamp, there are three essential questions to answer before investing in a new solution to ensure your team is getting the most value out of each addition.  

What Is My Stack Missing?

The first pressing challenge when building out a technology ecosystem is identifying the most impactful areas for improvement. There are a lot of technologies that companies could deploy to marginally improve various processes — a new email marketing platform, a CRM, a CMS, project management software, a DAM — but it’s not cost-efficient, or even beneficial, for companies to impulsively scrap together a patchwork of different technologies and call it a day.

To avoid doing too much at once and overwhelming your team, think about what’s missing and what makes sense for everyone. Where is the root of any inefficiency and inconsistency for your organization in particular? Can your unique problem be addressed by a platform that opens time and brain power for more strategic and creative thinking?

Consider a department-wide technology audit to develop a complete view of platforms in-use and the purposes they each serve, and identify any gaps or overlapping systems in place. The most successful martech stack revamps are those that begin with a close examination of existing practices and prioritizing critical pain points to choose an appropriate system of platforms that advances the company in a meaningful way.

Related Article: How to Future-Proof Your Martech Stack

Are My Goals and Timeline for a Revamp Realistic?

Even in the midst of a revamp, it’s important all parties involved remind themselves of why they’re engaged in these efforts to begin with. 

All relevant stakeholders, from those tasked with identifying potential platforms to add to those who would actually be using them every day, must be able to articulate why change was needed and how it will support business priorities. Having a clear roadmap in mind for a technology — complete with timing and goals — makes identifying and implementing the right solution much easier. 

If you don’t have a clear picture of where you want to be in a specified amount of time, your attempt at revamping your technology ecosystem will likely not be successful. Ask yourself: does it make sense for your team at this specific stage to implement the solution that you’ve chosen?

Building out an ecosystem is almost never a smooth ride, but that’s inevitable with change. From choosing the right platform, to launching and scaling adoption across a department, each stage will present challenges. Vetting potential vendors, implementing the solution, training employees on new technology and blending it into a workflow is a gradual evolution, and it can take months before your organization is reaping the true benefits of a new platform.

The key is to not rush the change — truly effective martech ecosystems can’t be built overnight.

Related Article: How to Simplify and Increase the Complexity of Your Martech Stack at the Same Time

Do I Have the People in Place to Manage Culture and Process Shifts?

Revamping a martech stack, be it adding on an individual solution or embarking on a complete overhaul, requires a particular set of skills to be successful, and it all starts with strong leadership, teamwork and a clear vision. Having people who know how to use all of the new technology that you’re trying to enable is crucial, but it’s also important that, in the early days of a stack revamp, you inspire buy-in and outline a clear roadmap for embedding a new solution into existing operations.

The experience is just as much about updating culture as it is updating platforms. Without the right mindset, all you have is a new set of technologies with low adoption rates. Without losing sight of implementing the technology, companies need to prioritize a sustainable culture shift with formal training sessions and dependable resources. Martech stack revamps and culture shifts are meant to go hand-in-hand.

As Joe Hyland, CMO of webinar platform company ON24, said

“We have to do a better job of training people and developing the processes to maximize the technology to its fullest extent. We’re all guilty of implementing technology and expecting it to solve all of our problems. In that same breath, some solutions aren’t maximized, as only specific team members leverage them when they could provide broader value to other departments."

If your team isn’t fully on board with the changes being made, your martech stack revamp will fall flat. Some employees may resist the change because they prefer to operate in older, more comfortable processes. Remind them of the shared vision for that new solution and how in the long run it will enhance their contributions, and overall performance of their business function. They’ll remember the “I wish there was a better way to do this” moment.

To alleviate some of the stressors that come with implementing a new solution or service and to ensure the addition is beneficial for your company, always remember a new platform is also a new partnership. From the get-go, establishing an open line of communication with your vendor and making sure you’re on the same page as your vendor POC will increase the chances of a smooth transition. Work with your partner and pop the hood on what it means to onboard this layer of your martech stack — establish a method, answer questions, lead training sessions and be a resource.   

Related Article: What Traits and Skills Do Martech Leaders Need to Succeed? 

Take Your Time

While there’s a lot of noise out there in the martech landscape (and as hard as it is to imagine a year where Scott Brinker’s map doesn’t expand), it’s important not to rush the process or add in new solutions to your stack for the sake of having new platforms to experiment with. Be calculated about each addition, work together with your partner and your team to implement the change and ensure your organization is getting the most value out of each solution.