Martech lessons from a grimpeur.
My colleagues all know me as an avid cyclist (please don’t call me a MAMIL). They can’t very well forget, since multiple bikes comprise the backdrop of every team video conference. Cycling has its own language including types of riders; I am most akin to a grimpeur — I like to go uphill. Of course, per our earliest incantation reflecting Newton’s observations on gravity, that means I also spend a lot of time going downhill.
Descending fast on a bicycle can be both scary and exhilarating. (If the photo below doesn’t convince you, click on it to watch a hair-raising 10 minutes.)
There are many techniques that you can use to improve your descending skill and comfort. You can adopt a more aerodynamic position, and learn how and when to brake. The greatest improvements will come from one simple adaptation: your vision. Focus too much on the entry to a turn and you will overestimate the radius of the curve. You must force yourself to look as far ahead as possible in order to take the optimal path.
What does this have to do with martech?
The same lesson applies to the development of your marketing technology roadmap. Your vision must focus not only on the capabilities that will remove impediments to your marketing team’s productivity and improve their efficiency. It must also account for new approaches, for example in data management, as well as new channels. And it must do so through a lens that appropriately filters the (potentially inflated) promises that vendors make regarding their products and release schedules.
My colleague Benjamin Bloom and I recently published the findings of Gartner’s 2019 Marketing Technology Survey (Gartner clients can read the full report here). We discovered that marketers’ development and management of their marketing technology roadmap ranged from ad-hoc to highly structured, with an attendant correlation to overall effectiveness of their martech. We also found that the greater the discipline these firms applied to their roadmap, the further into the future they were able to extend their marketing technology roadmap:
That is, these firms are able to look beyond their front wheel at the oncoming corner, lift their gaze to the twists and turns of the road as it extends into the distance, and navigate with speed and fluidity. More importantly, they’re able to reap the benefits of this approach: a more effective martech stack. Marketers and cyclists often share the shortcoming of looking solely to new technology to improve performance. After all, that new set of aero carbon wheels will only set you back a mere $9,000. But training and discipline will likely pay much greater dividends. If you find yourself often braking and recalibrating your martech path, it may be time to reexamine your approach. Increase the rigor of your martech planning process while expanding your investments in talent and training.