How Marketing buys Technology

Observations on how Marketing acquires capabilities through software

Modern MarTech Capabilities

The process

In my years of experience in MarTech, I have observed how multiple organisations acquire capabilities through software platforms.  

I can classify the types of purchases into three main groups:  Task-oriented, Solutions, and Platforms.  This classification indicates the scope of the problems each software is supposed to solve.  It also shows the agility with which software can be acquired, implemented and put into production and ultimately indicates the scale of each purchase's implications to the brand.

Most of these enterprise brands buy software led by Marketing or Digital departments.  However, an "IT blessing" is always required, despite IT involvement in the early stages of requirements being sometimes vague and distant.

Regardless of the purchase type, the main characteristic that drives the acquisition of new software is the need for improvement in operations, whether that improvement represents an optimisation or growth of capabilities.

In my observations, 99.9% of software purchases aim to support o solve a business issue, never a customer issue.  For example, acquiring integration platforms or software to connect existing solutions or data sources, or the most common one, buying a new CMS platform to adapt to "new" software engineering "best practices" (headless/composable anyone?) - These are internal business problems, that need a solution but have zero impact on customers' lives.

I'm still waiting to hear how much a Reverse-ETL CDP has helped superannuation members increase their retirement income by x% or how a composable architecture helps families reduce their transportation costs by X% a year.

The impact

Unfortunately, this paradigm leads to procurement processes entirely disconnected from end-customer issues and plagued with sterile and expensive RFPs that are tick-boxes exercises for vendors and safe sandboxes for brand procurement teams.

The downstream effects of these practices are almost nefarious, though we don't talk much about it because the next wave of RFPs is always around the corner.  Worth at least sparing some minutes thinking that if by 2027, the Digital Transformation Global Market will be ~US$ 1,5T, and we have a current failure rate of ~70% of digital transformation efforts, perhaps now is a good time to do things differently.

Marketing is Technology, not the other way around.  It is also time to ensure we understand this because hiding tech under the marketing rug has made brands no favour.  The CMO needs to become a CMTO.

Technology is the enabler and the ONLY way to efficiently do Marketing in today's economy.  From Excel to the most advanced generative AI, Marketing needs to master every aspect of Tech, but the most important thing is to have an informed-and-strong opinion on how to use tech for better marketing.

Software (technology) solutions are always someone else's opinion.  If you're not critical about how those opinions align with your views and values, you're simply a follower and never a leader.

The future

Undoubtedly, technology will keep shaping our world, and of course, it will continue to shape marketing.

We're well into the exponential age.  Trends pick up faster than we can even understand them.  All the demographic indicators of the consumer economy are exploding, and the business pace keeps accelerating despite the current economic downturn.  For marketing, this means unprecedented levels of complexity.  From now on, Tech will be the most critical part of Mar + Tech.