If I had to sum up 2020 in one word, I would probably say dumpster-fire (ok, technically two).
In all seriousness, though, 2020 was an extremely volatile year for the MarTech industry, and 2021 is shaping up to be another wild one. I’m sure we all remember those early panic-inducing days when budgets seemed to freeze up overnight, and companies went into survival mode trying to figure out what was going to happen and where this pandemic was going to take us.
But the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, the dropping number of cases in many parts of the country, and companies adapting to the new way of doing business are all cause for a little bit of cautious optimism about the future. As offices begin to reopen and things start to return to normal, and budgets start to loosen up again, it’s essential to look ahead and think about your team’s needs in the coming year. That’s why we’ve created a list of points that should be addressed when thinking about adopting a new technology within your organization.
The 2021 MarTech Landscape
It’s no secret that the pandemic wreaked havoc across the tech world. Many companies shut their doors for good, while others were acquired or, for those lucky few, saw exponential growth (I’m looking at you, Zoom).
However, despite all the ups and downs of the past year, the Martech Industry saw a 13% overall growth in new companies. Add that to the roughly 7,000 that already existed, and that puts today’s estimates around 8,000 companies operating in the MarTech landscape – each offering a new technology that could be game-changing. As a result, it’s more important than ever to look past the lofty promises of these new technologies and evaluate the real impact they will have on your organization.
Now there’s nothing wrong with highlighting a product’s benefits and giving people a look at what pain points it could potentially solve. However, as a buyer, it’s important to ask yourself a few points to consider that will help you make the decision of whether or not a new technology is right for your team.
- Who, what, why, when, how? → Who will be using this new technology? Is it a specific team, just a couple of people, or the whole company? How will your teams use it? We’ll talk more about this later, but knowing exactly how teams will use it to achieve your organizational goals will give you a good roadmap to follow as you adopt it.
- Be results-driven → What specific benefits can you expect as a result of the new technology’s adoption? Will it mean more inbound leads, faster sales cycles, better ROI, operational improvement, hours saved on administrative activities, etc.?
- Does it integrate? → What will adding a new technology mean for your current tech stack? By this, I mean is the latest technology something that can integrate into your existing platforms, or would the adoption of this new product mean your team needs to learn a completely new interface or build a new process to take full advantage of it. Not to say that one is inherently better than the other; it largely depends on your unique situation and what your team wants/needs. However, in my experience, having fewer platforms or interfaces to deal with is easier to manage and actually use. In general, I look to adopt technologies that can enhance my existing platforms rather than completely new ones.
- Do you really need it? → All too often, companies are wooed by the promises of a new technology and rush to add it to their stack to gain the upper hand over their competitors. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, companies are often quick to neglect the technologies they already have in favor of new ones, which can lead to inefficiency and redundancy within their tech stack. This is highlighted by a study done by Blissfully, which found that, on average, a company with between 100-200 employees has three “orphaned” subscriptions and four duplicate subscriptions. To combat this, before any new technology is adopted, a good practice is to take a very close look at your existing stack. Is there an existing technology that can serve the same or similar purpose? Are there some apps that aren’t being used that you could cancel and put that budget toward the new technology?
- Does the company set you up for ‘success’? → How are the company’s implementation and customer success teams? What is the onboarding process like? Are companies similar to yours that are using this type of technology?
- Is the technology future-proof? Ok, I’ll admit, no technology can ever be totally future-proof, but some are closer than others. Take Google’s decision to end support of third-party cookies as an example. It wouldn’t make much sense to invest in a technology that is reliant on third-party cookies to operate right now, knowing that by this time next year, that technology will have to drastically change its functionality or be rendered useless. Instead, you can use what we know now as a framework to look for technologies that are most likely to succeed in the long term (i.e., privacy compliant, vendor agnostic, etc.). For more on this, check out this article: Third-Party Cookies Are Doomed, Here’s How to Prepare.
Once you’ve made the decision to move forward with a new technology, the next step is setting up the internal structures and processes needed to maximize the product’s benefits. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to bring on a new technology:
- Make sure everyone is ready – This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be a bit tricky. To get the most out of any new tech you add to your stack, it’s essential to get everyone who will be using it on the same page. This involves making sure everyone knows exactly how they will be using the product day-to-day and on a larger scale what the ultimate goal of the technology is. This will ensure that by the time implementation starts, everyone will be ready to hit the ground running.
- Take into account setup and onboarding – Setup and onboarding of any new technology takes time, but it can vary drastically – it could be a matter of a few minutes, days, or even weeks (hopefully not months or years).
This is not to say you can’t expect to see results quickly (especially if you follow Step 1 on this list), but setting the expectation of when you can start seeing tangible results from the new technology will help set goals for the team and assist when it comes to measuring the success of the new technology. For more about when you can expect to see a return on your investment, check out our Return on Technology Investment article.
- Plan for the present, prepare for the future – Explore all available package options for the new technology, such as cost, usage, and the number of users, to determine the option that’s right for your current business needs but will also scale and allow room for your company to grow without being hindered by the limits of the package you choose. The cheapest package option might seem enticing at first glance, especially considering this will be a new, unknown technology. Still, you should consider if it will cover your organization’s current needs and allow room for growth.
Despite the wild year we just lived through, we’re living in exciting times in the MarTech industry. New products are arriving every day to help reduce unnecessary costs, provide enhanced analytics, increase inbound leads, and a plethora of other things that can make your sales and marketing teams perform at their best. Making sure you take the time to fully evaluate potential new solutions and have everything in place to properly utilize the new technology will ensure that you and your organization will be ready to make the most out of the new technology. By fully evaluating new potential technologies and uniting all stakeholders behind the common goal of the new technology, you ensure that your organization will be ready to hit the ground running.