How to Build a Tech Stack
Building a technology stack, or a combination of software products and programs used to create your marketing capability, is often an overwhelming task for marketing professionals. There are so many solutions, products and providers to choose from — and you don’t want to spend money on a technology that will have negative consequences down the road.
At the same time, marketing technology is becoming more necessary in today’s digital landscape. In fact, Gartner’s “2016-2017 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Spend Survey” shows that CMO’s marketing tech spend will be higher than that of CIO’s technology spend by the end of this year.
Where to Start
So where do you start when building a marketing tech stack that suits your business needs? Shiv Gupta, senior partner at Lippincott, a global creative consultancy, explains.
“I would begin by saying that technology and data are rarely the problem when it comes to developing a well-designed technology stack,” says Gupta. “Generally, the problem is a lack of strategic vision, organizational engagement or a digital brand strategy.”
Many marketers will look to third-party companies for help with strategy and organization when building a tech stack — not to actually build the tech stack for them. Ruth Stevens, a customer acquisition and retention strategist, sees third-party vendors or agencies as a marketer’s advisor during the buying process.
“The trend toward marketing tech has accompanied a trend of building capabilities internally,” Stevens said. “Most agencies are then forced to adopt the same tools that their clients are using.”
However, in Target Marketing’s latest research report “The Marketing Tech Buying Process: A Look at How Companies Purchase Technology Today,” only about 30 percent of respondents find third-party advisors “extremely valuable” or “very valuable.”
Gupta notes that this may reflect the fact that vendors tend to be more focused on their specific product or solution, and rarely is it the one difference maker in a tech stack.
Strategic First Steps
Now that you know how vendors and agencies fit into your strategy, it’s time to take the next steps. Seventy-four percent of survey respondents start out by determining a budget.
From there, you should determine if your customers are more likely to engage with your brand on a mobile device or the Web. From there, it’s easier to determine if you should have a mobile-first, mobile-only or mobile strategy, according to Gil Edelman, CTO of Silicon Valley Software Group. He said that will influence the rest of your technology purchasing decisions.
Next, take a look at technology available as open source tools in your specific industry. The best tools usually have active developer communities supporting them.
Finally, you need to figure out the team who will build your tech stack. If you already have a team of talented engineers in your IT department, great! If not, you will need to hire or contract the right team for the job.
Once you figure out the technology needs for your company in the present time, don’t forget to consider how your company will grow in the future. A technology purchase is a huge commitment, so you’ll want to think about how your tech stack will scale.
The marketing technology landscape is only going to continue to grow. Implementing a tech stack strategically, and using third-party vendors or agencies as advisors in the process, are keys to success.