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Why Technology is not the problem

Marketing Technology offers brands today more options than ever before to engage with customers; targeting both efficiency in their operations and effectiveness in their marketing activity.

We’ve seen the ‘rise of the customer led economy’ (Economist Intelligence Report 2013) which opened with “To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.” Management guru Peter Drucker’s words are as true today as they were in 1973.

The customer now has so many ways to engage with a brand, product or service and as such opportunities for brands to reach their target customer are bigger and more complex than ever before.

The Marketing Technology Landscape

There is an abundance of software platforms out there that aim to help brands achieve customer communication nirvana. Scott Brinker, blogger at, publishes an annual supergraphic, charting the marketing technology landscape.

In the 2018 supergraphic he suggested that the number of active providers in the Marketing Technology space was over 5000 providers, a dramatic increase from the 3,500 solutions in the 2016 graphic.

It’s a hugely complex and ever-expanding landscape, and a real headache for brands to navigate. How do you choose the right tools for your business when all vendor’s are in one way or another converging into a single mainstream proposition – To empower brands to own the customer journey.

It’s a significant claim and a very enticing one for brands. However, in reality very few vendors are genuinely able to provide full ownership of the multiple phases of customer communication.

Pace of change

The last five years have been a rollercoaster for us all. The pace of change in the marketing community has been so fast that each year, month and even every week offers a new possibility for engaging with our customers. Here are some stark reminders of the pace of change we live with:

  • Since its launch in the early 2000’s programmatic marketing has grown from strength to strength; with a recent Zenith report predicting that in 2019 65% of all money spent on advertising in digital media will be programmatic. (
  • The use of Artificial Intelligence (Ai) within the marketing arena is exploding and whilst only 15% of company use it today, 31% of organisations are set to adopt Ai this year. (
  • Marketing Personalisation has also seen an enormous swing, in the past two years alone. The recent Gartner CMO spend survey reports that over 50% of businesses increased their spend on personalised marketing between 2017-2018.

New trends bring new technology and we’ve seen plenty of new customer systems in the last 5 years, which results in ever expanding complexity of the customer journey for our brands.

The value of getting ‘it’ right is huge and ultimately one of the biggest differentiators for a brand in today’s market. ‘It’ being to efficiently and effectively attend to all your customer’s needs.

Ok, so nothing too ground-breaking so far. Using technology in all elements of marketing is a critical pillar for any sizeable brand, and there’s a large market of technology providers to help us do it. So why is it so difficult and why do so many struggle?

There are some that get it absolutely right; AirBNB, Linkedin and British Airways are three that I have had personal experience of recently. They’ve got many of their customer communications spot on, hitting me with the right information, at the right time, in the right way. I know they don’t employ a personal customer communicator just for me, so what are brands like these doing to get it so right?

The three pillars of MarTech (any tech for that matter)

In the above, we can look at, what I believe are the three key pillars of a successful project (there are many more, such as legal, commercial, risk etc. which will naturally be considered by any good PMO). I’ve used the term pillars, as suitable investment in all three are required to achieve stable and working MarTech.

The Features pillar represents all of the amazing capabilities available today. The competitive nature of the MarTech landscape means that usability and feature depth are readily available at competitive prices.

The Environment pillar represents all of the infrastructure needs to make your MarTech operate. With accessibility to the cloud and many OTB integrations, brands have more possibilities to leverage technology today than ever before.

Finally, and arguably the most important of the three pillars is the Operators pillar, representing the human side of marketing technology.

The Human Side of Marketing Technology

Your user community will consist of your staff, your agencies and all the partners in your marketing supply chain. They will be the people that will use your MarTech to create rich and meaningful customer interactions that increase sales and elevate your brand. Take some time to think who they are, and how they are considered within your current technology projects.

Sand Hill produced an enlightening report in 2012 (,  that reviewed the success of technology deployments and showed that almost 80% of companies cannot declare victory, if the bar is set at the level of user success.

Eighty percent!

The success of your MarTech project isn’t solely contained within this group, but the biggest risk of failure is.

Every successful project I have worked on over the years, has invested heavily in user engagement and ensuring you get this fine balance correct right is key to MarTech success.