In January of 2012, Gartner Analyst Laura McLellan made a bold prediction:
By 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.
This statement continues to resonate with marketers today. I attended the 2015 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in San Diego a few weeks ago, and I can’t even tell you the number of presentations that referenced this single phrase first articulated over three years ago.
The truth is you don’t need to be a CMO to feel bombarded by the belief that each daily task can and should be improved by technology. Being on the cutting edge and utilizing the latest products is seen as a badge of honor—it is important to remember that a new product is not a solution in itself.
To make sure you are picking the right tool to further your goals, I suggest the following tips:
Bring Tech to the Front
One North’s Kalev Peekna and Nate Denton gave a presentation at the event that outlined how many of the failures of establishing firm, on-brand digital experiences can be prevented by “moving digital to the front.” Meaning, planning for digital platforms during the creative process, rather than after, will do wonders to ensure a successful brand implementation. The same concept can be applied when choosing technology solutions.
Example: Your firm has started a newsletter project on a subject with increasing client interest.
Prior to jumping into the execution of the project, such as how often you will be writing the newsletter, what team will be in charge of writing it, etc., make sure to first ask, “How will we measure the success of this initiative?”
Asking this at the start allows you to tailor the content, schedule and presentation in a way that will allow you to gather more insight into how your users are engaging with the content.
Trying to “retrofit” your success measurements after the project is in place is far more challenging, as the content and delivery methods may not have been built with these metrics in mind.
New technology should be time-saving and efficient, but it can often feel like a waste of effort, trying to remember your 14th different password to log-in to another tool.
While looking at a new demo, keep in mind the effort involved for you as a new user of this product.
Many products that provide useful analytics require self-reporting. An example is a CRM that requires users to add in new contacts and update the relationships. Each additional tool that requires you to manually input information takes a daily toll. If a new tool offers some exciting new reporting you think will be beneficial, look first to see what is possible within your current suite of products.
In his presentation “The Technology Horizon," Adam Stock advocated the use of Contact Management tools, such as EverContact which scans emails and updates contact lists based off of email signatures.
Rather than relying on individuals to enter in updated contact info into the database, this will scan emails and update contacts within the user’s email correspondence. Look for tools such as these that can improve current operations without adding new responsibilities.
The End is Just a More Exhaustive Beginning
When deciding upon a new system or tool, make sure there is support beyond the sales process.
A successful launch does not equal a successful implementation. Even with the best preparation, the real user testing begins at launch. When looking at larger system implementations, check in on what kind of consultant ecosystem there is around the product. Industry-leading solutions are capable of working for all industries, but it may not always be obvious how to apply it to your business. Make sure there will be help available to customize a powerful tool for your firms’ needs.
Visit the vendor’s website and view the support page or developer forum. Are users getting prompt responses? Are they getting resolutions? For personal use, prompt and continuous user support may not be a big deal, but consider the support for integrated products before rolling it out to your own clients and teams.
Even the most sophisticated and modern business solutions will struggle to succeed without managing the goals and people within the project. Be skeptical of someone who generalizes that a certain technological advancement is the solution simply because it’s new. A new product should always just be a tool within an overall strategy.