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Zero One: Digital Business’s Tip of the SpearZero One: Digital Business’s Tip of the Spear

Marketers have emerged as digital business transformation leaders. Now they need help from the channel, as marketing tech enters the critical phase of integration.

Tom Kaneshige

May 31, 2017

3 Min Read
Zero One: Digital Business’s Tip of the Spear

Calling all integrators: If you want to play in the digital transformation game, then coach up your skills in marketing tech. Digital marketing is the big leagues of digital transformation, mainly because marketers have seized control of the customer experience through cutting-edge technology.

“Martech drives engagement with the customer,” said Jennifer Chick, vice president of global marketing and digital at Hilton Worldwide. “It really does impact the enterprise on a much larger scale. It’s about our customer relationships, the most important part of our business.”

More than 5,000 marketing tech solutions litter the market today, and marketers have spent the last few years buying them. Worse, many marketers have become enamored by the latest shiny object in marketing tech, quickly adding it to the mix. It’s to the point where churn rates are a real concern.

Now the game has entered a critical new phase that virtually cries out for help from the channel. In order for marketers to obtain the holy grail of digital marketing – that is, delivering the right message to the right person at the right time – all the marketing tech pieces must work in concert.

“Integration is the next big thing,” said Praveen Palepu, director of U.S. marketing and operations at Microsoft. “All the systems must work together. The stack must work together.”

Related: Zero One: 10 Line-of-Business Tech Buyers

It’s a tough job even for integrators with architectural expertise, because the marketing tech stack has been stitched together without an overarching plan resulting in a kind of “Frankenstack.” Nevertheless, the marketing tech stack needs to be re-architected to support fluid, fast decision-making.

“You have to revaluate the [marketing tech] roadmap every six months, because priorities shift and change as the customer changes,” Chick said, adding, “Marketing automation is particularly difficult in large, complex organizations. We just re-rolled it back out much more successfully than our first attempt. Failure is all a part of innovating and progressing in this new world.”

Tech chops aside, channel integrators need to be bilingual. They must engage in marketing speak with the CMO, talk tech with the CIO, and combine the two when chatting with “purple squirrels” – Chick’s name for staffers who bridge the gap between technology and marketing.

In addition to architecting the marketing stack, channel companies can serve marketers in selecting vendors, synchronizing with other lines-of-business, and localizing marketing tech solutions to particular geographies, cultures and regulations. In so doing, channel companies help align marketing tech with marketing’s maniacal focus on the customer experience.

“No role has changed as much as the marketer,” said Doug Pepper, managing director at Shasta Ventures. “They now lead the digital transformation of business.”

thumb-297568-4385693399444-274396471-n.jpgBased in Silicon Valley, Tom Kaneshige writes the Zero One blog covering digital transformation, AI, marketing tech and the Internet of Things for line-of-business executives. He is eager to hear how marketing tech is impacting your business. You can reach him at [email protected] 

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About the Author(s)

Tom Kaneshige

Writer, Channel Futures

Tom Kaneshige writes the Zero One blog covering digital transformation, AI, marketing tech and the Internet of Things for line-of-business executives. He is based in Silicon Valley. You can reach him at [email protected]


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