Marketing Technology: The Need for Cadence Around the Chaos

The world of marketing today is more complex than it’s ever been with new channels and consumer touchpoints being introduced almost every day. The innovation in data and technology has put today’s consumer right at the center of it all where he has the power, control, and speed to choose and make decisions whenever and wherever he desires. For brands to efficiently “understand”, “interact,” and “engage” every time and everywhere with this in-control consumer, a new set of marketing technology capabilities are needed; these must bring creative, strategy, and technology together and connect the conventionally isolated worlds of marketing and technology to deliver personalized, frictionless omnichannel consumer experiences while establishing a system of “engagement” with the consumer.

However, with such ability comes the challenge of “too many”: too many technologies, too many shiny objects and possibilities, and too much fragmentation within the ever-evolving marketing technology landscape. So how do we get ahead of the curve and bring some cadence to the chaos?

Bird’s eye view of the marketing technology landscape

Let’s start with a bird’s eye view of the landscape itself. Scott Brinker in his marketing technology infographic started the tide, and IT research and advisory company Gartner has a Marketing Technology Transit Map, which does a reasonable job showing the integration touchpoints between the capabilities across a wide spectrum of channels and paid, owned, and earned media.

Click on the image below to enlarge.

While these views of the marketing-tech landscape provide the key capability buckets, the challenge lies far beyond. Here are the top three challenges that marketers struggle with:

1) An awareness of what goes underneath these buckets. There are many possibilities with myriad technologies and capability sets.

The simplest way to explain this is by digging deeper into one of the technology buckets and understanding the capability spectrum underneath. Let’s take CRM, for instance; here’s a quick analysis of some of the sub capabilities within that bucket that you could possibly adopt to build and evolve your CRM vision and strategy:


This is a simple view of some of the CRM capabilities with little being done to integrate them and deliver an optimized consumer experience. This leads to the second key challenge.

2) Connecting these capabilities. Each alone will not be half as good if they’re isolated and not integrated into a connected ecosystem.

There’s a need for an integrated marketing technology ecosystem—or, rather, a Marketing Operating System. The interconnectivity of these capabilities in terms of exchanging data, consumer behavior, and identifying the role that each of these should play is quintessential to delivering a connected, seamless, and omnichannel consumer experience; for instance, having a world class CRM capability and the 360-degree view of the customer that may include her demographic, social, behavioral, and shopping data but being unable to leverage that data in real-time across the various digital touchpoints and channels like email, mobile, social, and Web to deliver personalized and contextual consumer experiences is almost meaningless. This requires integration between your CRM capability and content delivery engines like Web CMS, email engines, mobile Web, social, and eCommerce platforms. The consumer data can be used for both testing and targeting content and experiences.

3) Prioritizing my top five capabilities from the myriad out there.

This is where the “option of too many” becomes “the problem of too many.” With so many shiny objects that are equally promising, prioritization becomes a huge challenge. With the consumer being omnipresent, marketers want to enable every single channel to engage with the consumer.

So how do you create some cadence around this chaos?

While I may not be able to provide a solution to all the questions in this blog, since the answer could be dramatically different for every brand, I will recommend an approach to create multiple marketing-technology work streams based on how and what they’re trying to solve:

1. Enterprise marketing-technology capabilities: These are foundational technology capabilities that require enterprise and scaled technology platforms that can potentially be adopted and adapted in multiple markets. These require scale, robustness, and flexibility from an architectural standpoint; however, the desire to globalize these within an organization can pose different types or operational challenges, something I had shared in my last blog on globalization: Globalization—Marketing’s Biggest Challenge? A quick illustration of enterprise capabilities:


2. Tactical or creative marketing technologies: Tactical marketing capabilities are lightweight consumer-facing technologies that enable omnichannel and frictionless experiences with speed, agility, and nimbleness, leveraging data with real-time experimentation, optimization, and personalization across all possible touchpoints and channels. Tactical capabilities are different from enterprise in a few areas:

  • Locally driven—Unlike enterprise capabilities, these don’t need to be scaled globally. These drive experiences that are dependent on local consumer segments and brand needs.
  • Lightweight and higher need for speed and agility—Need for much faster go-to-market speed to respond to consumer expectations.
  • Smaller investment—Relatively smaller investment as compared to enterprise global platforms.
  • SaaS solutions and partnerships—Turnkey or configurable SaaS solutions with minimum dependencies on internal and backend infrastructure.
  • Quick wins—Evaluate, adopt, implement, measure, and optimize; provide quick wins for the brands.

3. Marketing technology innovation: The third work stream of marketing-technology innovation puts technology in the forefront of marketing as it has the potential of opening up new business and commercial models. I define technology innovation as:

“Using technology, new or existing, in breakthrough ways to transform the way brands engage with their consumersand changing consumer behavior in the process.”

Regardless of what category a certain technology or capability may belong to, they all should go through an evolution process—an incremental roadmap from the base capability to a state that provides flexibility to test and learn different experiences with agility and nimbleness. You may decide to have your different buckets and categories of marketing technologies and respective work streams, but one thing is clear: You cannot wear a unified lens to analyze and build your marketing technology landscape, for it is far too wide, deep, and complex requiring a unique methodology, approach, and funding model for the different needs.

Mayur Gupta is global head, marketing technology, of Kimberly-Clark. He blogs at

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