Vendor and agency obsession with building tech stacks is preventing advertisers from asking the right questions about digital transformation, says Rob Beevers.

At the recent CMO Europe Summit at St Andrews, Scotland, I talked to many advertisers trying to understand their digital challenges and worried about their brand’s accompanying technology, alongside digital solutions vendors (some not all) doing little to dampen this anxiety. Already struggling to cope with each next big thing in digital, brand owners are now besieged by suppliers of systems and platforms they either haven’t heard of or didn’t know existed.

The proliferation in marketing technology is threatening to mushroom out of control. If advertisers listened to every breakthrough trend, they’d rush to invest millions in analytics, tag management, data visualization and optimization suites, customer experience management, enterprise management, attribution management, and mobile transaction platforms. And that’s before they come up against the clutch of TLAs – the Three Letter Acronyms: CRM, DMP, DSP, and SSP.

Enough already – and particularly with the jargon. It’s time advertisers called time on tech stack mania – the latest digital gold rush – and fundamentally changed the debate. Brands investing in everything available would definitely be overspending.

Businesses need to step back from the day-to-day busyness of business and set the right exam question, such as: ‘What does mobile do for my brand and how can I make it do more?’ Questions like this are answered worst by first approaching a vendor for either an off-the-shelf or bespoke solution, such as a personalization platform.

Rather, those charged to tackle this sort of challenge should analyze the current state of their business, landscape the market, and conduct stakeholder research. In our example, this will include identifying and interviewing all key stakeholders within the business who touch on mobile – from ops to marketing, insight to data management, project management to company leadership. Only then should they develop a roadmap for transformation.

“The proliferation in marketing technology is threatening to mushroom out of control.” 

Beware the sirens’ calls from solution vendors. You might discover that the grass only appears greener on the other side of the fence because it tends to rain a lot over there. The key to avoiding post purchase remorse is not to make over-hasty, under-researched purchases first off. And only invest in real-time solutions if you’re going to act on the intelligence they give you in real time.

In almost 20 meetings we had with advertisers at the CMO Europe Summit, none of the answers to their exam questions were ‘buy this piece of tech now and add it to your tech stack.’ It’s not that the solutions aren’t good and don’t work. More usually, they’re the wrong solution to a brand’s transformational dilemma and associated insight needs.

Are you under pressure - from vendors, from bosses, or from what you see peers and competitors doing - to invest in tech first solutions to the transformational challenges you face?

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