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A test and learn cycle is crucial for new martech capabilities

By Benjamin Bloom | May 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

MarketingMarketing Technology and Emerging Trends

CMOs often think of martech almost as if they were buying a new car. They expect their technology to perform perfectly as soon as they have it, “fresh off the lot.” Unfortunately, your car (or martech) salesperson isn’t asking you how good of a driver you are before you sign the contract. Yet if you accept the challenge – that you must improve your team and their skillset, when will you do it?  First, you’ll need to shift your mindset to building capabilities, intentionally aligning team and process so that technology and data can be used (see Best Practices to Improve Martech Utilization –Gartner subscription required)

Adopt a Capability - First Orientation to Martech

But most organizations somehow expect drivers to learn new driving skills or vehicle capabilities while simply executing their regular commute.  The development of new martech capabilities – which are the combination of technology, data, people, and process, cannot be done overnight or as an afterthought.   And more often than not, success depends on a relentless focus on incremental improvement, and that focus requires testing. 

In the grueling environment of Formula 1, with cars that reach over 200 miles per hour, tremendous pressure and trust is placed on the driver.  As Mercedes driver Valtri Bottas explains, the steering wheel of the vehicle is custom-molded to his hands, and the specific buttons and switches are designed to be easily accessible and resilient under race conditions.  Despite all the off-season collaboration between driver and engineers, they still test: they take 3 such steering wheels into the first race of the season, a primary, a backup, and experimental version for testing!  

When you look back at the end of the your next race season, will you have tested enough?  Worked carefully enough with your teams to define and mature your capabilities?  What would you rather have? 10 “quick wins” and insights for each project introduced in the real world?  Or 1 comprehensive project plan still waiting to kick off?

Here are a few ways to re-orient your approach to martech selection, adoption, and extension.

  • Adopt a capability mindset, that technology can only deliver value when combined with people, processes, and data.  Use that mindset to identify what business value must be generated, and document any gaps.  These gaps should be thought of the same way a product manager approaches a backlog of feature or enhancement requests: everything must be prioritized.  
  • Build trust through transparent operations.  An organization’s business strategy and objectives should provide overall guidance, but with finite time, funds, and people, the competing needs of business stakeholders can overwhelm a martech team seeking to please everyone.  This is simply impossible.  Instead, establish an open process that seeks to document the value of each enhancement, through quantitative revenue or cost impact if possible, or qualitative estimates as a fallback.  
  • Use transparency to align and prioritize specific concepts.  The value of an agile approach, with plenty of testing, is that unproductive approaches can be terminated when they hit dead ends or don’t pan out (see Accelerate Optimizing Your Marketing Technology With These Proof-of-Concept Tests)

Gartner clients interested in capability growth should contact your service partner to discuss how to advance your capabilities to cover new use cases, new users, and to validate or retire vendors.  We’ll be laser focused on this at in Track F – Realize the Value of your Technology Ecossytem – at Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo® August 31 – September 2 , 2021 – click here to learn more!


The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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