Why Marketers Should Audit Their Technology Portfolio

August 28, 2019
Contributor: Laura Starita

Marketers who adopt a portfolio management approach to marketing technology investments can better serve the business and stay on top of tech needs and obsolescence.

CMOs spent 29% of their budgets on marketing technology (martech) in 2018, according to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2018 – 2019. Yet only 33% of organizations feel that their martech effectively meets business needs.

Marketers may have neither enough nor the right technology in their portfolios. It’s also common, however, for marketers to have an incomplete view of the technology capabilities they have, and therefore not use everything they’ve paid for.

“Marketing technology leaders face many challenges in managing and getting the most out of their investments,” says Colin Reid, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “They must make sense of an evolving constellation of tools and technologies, face a complicated landscape of vendors and address a shifting range of C-suite demands.”

To ensure a high return on investment (ROI) to the business, marketers should start with a thorough audit of the organization’s martech ecosystem and use the findings to inform a martech sourcing and management strategy and to cultivate executive support for upgrades.

Audit the martech ecosystem

Unlike CIOs, who might have decades of technology portfolio management skills, CMOs have only recently become primary technology buyers and have just begun to develop a portfolio view of technology assets.

Build a baseline inventory of martech resources using the Gartner pace-layering framework:

  1. Systems of Record: These foundational technologies enable core processes with a survival time of 10+ years (Ex: Customer identity management systems, email marketing platforms, digital data analytics).
  2. Systems of Differentiation: These solutions enable the business to differentiate its marketing and communications and must be upgraded every three to five years (Ex: Surveys and customer insights, customer journey mapping).
  3. Systems of Innovation: Marketers implement new ideas using innovative solutions, which might only survive a year or less (Ex: Niche tools for personalization or optimizing messaging).

“Only 33% of organizations feel that their martech effectively meets business needs.”

Once you’ve located the organization’s current technologies within the framework, highlight the business initiatives each technology supports. Document what each solution costs, the number of users and how often they use it. Viewed together, this information offers high-level insight into which solutions are returning value and which are underutilized.

Use audit insights to develop a roadmap

The results from the martech audit should provide the foundation for a martech roadmap. Both a plan and a timeline, the martech roadmap defines the priorities for adopting new martech and retiring outdated systems in a way that considers the needs of users, technology resources, data and other dependent factors.

Far from a one-off exercise, the martech audit should take place twice a year and lead to an updated technology investment roadmap that optimizes the benefits martech brings to the business.

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