Laying technology & data foundations for relevance, at scale

Today’s post closes off our series on operationally pivoting the business around the customer, which is the first phase on our digital go to market roadmap. I’ll look at the final step of laying technology and data foundations for scaled relevance, and why it is so important to do so before you move on to the next major phase of integrating your marketing and sales execution.

So far in the series, I’ve looked at how to secure executive sponsorship and educate the business about transformation initiatives, and why aligning your product, marketing and sales on priority audiences is critical to achieving scaled relevance. I then discussed the importance of gaining a detailed understanding of how customers buy, and how to build compelling content to engage and facilitate their progress across the buying journey. Last week, I discussed step five – evolving a channel strategy to allow marketing and sales to interact with the digitally-enabled customer in the right places, at the right time.

Roadmap phase one
The remaining step is to validate your technology and data foundations, so that you can enable marketing and sales to be responsive and relevant with their interactions, at scale. Evolving your technology ecosystem to support and enable these interactions – is the flag on the hill. Given the complexity to get there, it is important to start laying the technology foundations and outlining what your required technology roadmap will look like. 

Step 6 - Validate Technology & Data Foundations

For many businesses, this process begins with uplifting data integrity, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) disciplines and the quality of the customer database, which are commonly far from perfect in this early stage. If not resolved, the ability to deliver relevance will be greatly diminished on an ongoing basis. On the technology side, the first hurdle is often making sense of the range of solutions out there and identifying those best suited to help you. For marketing leaders, there is an exploding array of very sophisticated tools available, so understanding what they can do is challenging. There is also a need to educate both the leadership team and IT on the available technologies and why these are an important part of the picture.

While the customer, people and process elements will ultimately form the foundation of your customer-centric design, it will be technology that brings scale to it. So, it is important to carefully consider the technology foundations you need, and work closely with IT on the roadmap for how you will prove, implement and evolve your technology ecosystem. 

During our transformation work, the following tips have proven valuable:

1. Perform a Data Health Check

Incomplete or inaccurate data can severely limit the ability to deliver relevance. For example, if a prospect’s job title is incorrect, it will be difficult to segment correctly and deliver relevant messaging. As such, it is critical for organisations to perform a data health check, clean their data if inaccurate and implement internal data hygiene disciplines.

2. Ensure the CRM Delivers User Value to Drive Adoption

CRM adoption and usage in many organisations is poor, with data quality and customer insights suffering as a result. Typically, these adoption challenges stem from a CRM which is too complex, too difficult to use or a perception that the system is intended for managing salespeople, rather than helping them in their day-to-day roles. A proven path to solving these challenges is coupling robust change and communications management with a CRM that is simple, enabling and helps salespeople sell more.

3. Make the 'No Regrets' Decisions on Core Platforms

Core platforms must make data accessible and actionable to the right staff. They also need to be sufficiently agile and scalable to ensure you can deliver a highly relevant customer experience. The core technology stack should encompass a flexible CRM system, a robust content management system (CMS), ideally with dynamic content capability, as well as a marketing automation platform which can integrate well with your CRM.

Moving on to Marketing and Sales Integration

With the ‘customer pivot’ phase complete, your business will now be positioned to begin the next stage of transformation, where the much more difficult process of functional integration takes place. In this second stage, you will test, prove and evolve a whole new marketing and sales execution engine; redesign processes, evolve operating models and hardwire new and more automated ways of working through technology. Our next post in this series will kick off the second phase and introduce you to the steps involved in successfully integrating your marketing and sales divisions.

Worded by Chris Horn