Back in 2019, Scott Brinker wrote in his blog an entry where he touches on the value of the Martech stack and why the utilization metric shouldn't misguide us. In the past, I worked on multiple projects, meetings, and workshops; where the goal is to explain to the business the value realization of the MarTech stack.
Indeed, all technology investments in any company must be justified and throw a positive balance after implementation and operationalization. However, looking at the ROI purely from the increased revenue standpoint could be a misconception similar to the disconnect between the utilization metric and value, as Scott Brinker explains.
Audience: the value in the transition
The audience's value increases as it transits the system.
Helping your audience transition or navigate your experience or messaging from State A to State B, which leaves them in a better position according to your business, is also valuable. In this case, the value is more meaningful for your audience; now that they have received your message, they have more information about your business, your products, and your proposition, but it's also valuable for the organization because it helps to reduce any future friction.
All the efforts put into measuring their online behaviours and tracking their digital journey, plus making all the offline data work together with the online world, and analyzing millions of records to produce that Next Best Offer, or Next Best Action and creating more accurate cohorts or segments will align your audience with your business. What will happen over time is that which every transition to the next stage, the value will increase, and the relationship will be better.
Team: the value in the learnings
The team's value increases as they learn new skills and improve teamwork.
All the teams across the organization's Martech have countless ways of obtaining value from the system. And also to add value to it.
If we only think of the hard skills, at a bare minimum, they will have the opportunity to work with large datasets and perform analysis on them. They also have the chance to be creative creators; the pace of innovation in this space is overwhelming. Working agilely, using the latest delivery methodologies in the enterprise, is another win for teams in modern organizations.
And for the more technology-driven, the opportunity to architect and develop information systems that help change for the better is a valuable asset. There are plenty of development languages, frameworks, APIs, integration platforms, and emerging technologies for this latter group, and it's hard not to see how much value this particular element has.
So yes, the numerous opportunities to grab new learnings daily are of enormous value. And very few are that lucky.
Technology: the value in the improvements
Technology value increases as it evolves with new or optimized features
Every MarTech system will have a few pieces of technology. Some are likely deployed in the cloud as SaaS, while others are in-house or on-premise. Regardless, maintenance and evolutive programs always keep the organization's technology stack up-to-date.
A critical characteristic of the system is that given the environment in which it lives, it has to be highly performant; this means that old and slow-moving pieces should be replaced with new ones, and elements performing well should be optimized. In the end, the result of this dynamic is that iteration after iteration, the technology part of the system helps the system improve, making it more optimal. But the technology itself also gets better, with better communication protocols, better algorithms, and better architectures.
Data: the value in the information
Data value increases as more data are analyzed, and more information generated sounds like a no-brainer; the more data any business possesses today, the better. But Data alone is of little value, and data must be processed in many ways and produce information that can later help in decision-making. In other words, the opportunity to generate information from the vast amount of data created and captured is unprecedented and has a high value in any organization.
Imagine a scenario where your organization has to stop the MarTech system. What will happen is that your organization's audience will stop improving. The team will continue learning, and the technology will stay the same. But, your data and all the information generated until then will still represent high value in the form of knowledge for the entire organization.
The value in the system
The value of the system increases with every iteration.
Looking for value in Martech systems in organizations behind particular metrics or KPIs, like open rates, churn rates, click-through rates, or any other marketing or business metric, is a bit short-sighted. Don't get me wrong, those metrics are crucial, but they are only part of everything that requires measurement in the system, including the audience, the team, the technology, and the data.
Most organizations are indeed measuring all these elements; what we've been missing is putting everything in the same context, and then we would see that the value in MarTech is in the system.