From the MarTech Experts: Tips for Successful Change Management

the-power-of-changeManaging change is the toughest part of any marketing transformation, especially regarding the adoption of new technology. This isn't new news. Yet, the pace of change only seems to be accelerating, and we marketers are prone to neglecting this critical element in our organizations.

Below are excerpts from hand-picked interviews that not only illustrate how important change management is to successfully guiding marketing’s transformation, but also provide insight on how to lead this change effectively. Among these approaches, standardizing goals, communicating needs across departments, and hiring the right people in the right roles seem to be agreed upon as vital efforts in any transformative environment. 

“Lead Change or Die”

headshot-laloreLeslie Cocco Alore, Sr. Manager of Global Marketing Operations & Automation at Iron Mountain, quite explicitly conveys in her interview the need to manage people, processes and technology:

“People, processes, and technology. In that order. Actually, it’s probably be more like: people, processes, people, technology, processes, people. Human capital is the backbone of a successful ops team. You need a team with the skills to understand and execute the technology and processes, and without that you’re fighting a losing battle. I’ve seen companies do this time and time again: Technology, people processes. Purchasing a super robust automation technology doesn’t do you much good without having someone in place who can implement it, develop the necessary operating processes, run it and optimize it. Furthermore, you should determine your operational process goals before selecting a technology that can support it. Technology supports operational processes, not vise verse. Of course, you will need to develop processes specific to the technology you select as well. Additionally, you’re not going to stand up an entire team all at once…or you shouldn’t. You have to assess your needs and capabilities along the way. Invest in training and involve your team in the development process, so they have a stake in it. Just like any change management situation you have to slowly build, communicate, empower and reinforce the vision.”

Leslie also identifies "adaptability to change" as a crucial trait for any marketing operations practitioner:

“Analytical, adaptable and hungry.

Adaptability is critical, because marketing is a fast-paced, ever-changing ecosystem. Someone who gets comfortable with a technology or process or methodology and settles into their ways isn’t going to make it. They will be unhappy and a hindrance to growth. I believe the marketing operations team should be at the forefront of trends, not sitting around “keeping the lights on” and waiting for other marketers, or sales, or leadership to come up with new ideas and make requests. You’ve heard the expression ‘Change or die’…I’d take it a step further and say ‘Lead change or die!’”

Marketing Technologists: “A linchpin in change management”

scottbrinker_1600pxDuring my discussion this summer with Scott Brinker, President and CTO of Ion Interactive and chiefmartec.com, he marks the biggest obstacle to marketing technology adoption as human:

“The biggest challenge to the adoption of MarTech, however, isn't technical. It's human. Marketing technologies enable amazing new ways for marketers to manage their organizations and engage with their audiences — but they require new thinking, new practices, and new skills in the marketing team to realize their potential.

Buying software is easy: type in a credit card or sign a purchase order. But integrating software into your marketing strategy and operations — building up a new generation of critical, intangible capital around it — is a major study in change management. Companies are making these changes. But it's hard work, and it doesn't happen overnight.”

When later asked how marketing technologists are transforming businesses for the better, Scott highlighted the role’s focus on equipping the rest of marketing with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully navigate marketing’s transformation.

 “…perhaps most importantly, helping the broader marketing team — non-technical marketers — leverage technology more effectively. They're advocates, educators, coaches, and counselors for how marketers can apply all these innovations to deliver better customer experiences and achieve better results — without having to become engineers themselves. They're a linchpin in change management.”

Negotiation and standardization required

bala_kudaravalliBala Kudaravalli, IT Marketing Architect/Technologist at Symantec, is charged with transforming the ways technology is leveraged throughout a global marketing organization – a difficult responsibility. When asked about the approach he takes to execute this goal, Bala went right into how negotiating and creating a common, standardized vision among stakeholders was vital.

I’m a negotiator because I have to come up with a viable solution that works for all stakeholders – whose priorities and interests might not be aligned. Typical tradeoffs are around standardization of processes, sequencing of what to do when and span of control on technologies.

At the end of the day, my job is to develop a common vision, gain alignment across all stakeholders and deliver data and technology-driven solutions that have a material contribution to the business.”

Common language is critical

gary-katz1In my most recent interview with Gary Katz, Founder and Chairman of Marketing Operations Partners, he emphasized marketing operations’ focus on supporting CEO efforts to create agile organizations and align inter-departmental goals and systems to ensure tech investments pay off:

“A big one [challenge/opportunity for marketing ops] is how to support CEOs in their quest for organizational agility, which is the No. 1 challenge in most companies. Another is how to get the most out of large investments in marketing technology and how to connect the dots between marketing systems and enterprise systems (which involves much more than the technology itself)….Too often, marketing transformation or improvement efforts die before they make a real impact due to ‘Ivory Tower’ decisions, CMO turnover, failure to get sustained executive sponsorship and buy-in, etc.”

Gary’s comments refer back to an earlier interview in which he discussed the importance of standardizing language and goals among organization stakeholders:

“Establishing that common language is critical. And also articulating the goals for each of those groups and trying to put those goals back in context of the organizational goals is really important. That’s where all the work is really done — in common language and the common goals, and making sure they’re understood by each group.” 

Key takeaways

Marketing and the technology being developed to facilitate its success are evolving so rapidly they're causing substantial growing pains. This seems to be evident across the board. In some cases, roles are being creating in large part to mitigate these pains -- such as Bala Kudaravalli’s position as Symantec’s IT Marketing Architect/Technologist. In other cases, marketing organizations are simply placing greater emphasize on adaptability as an employee prerequisite. Most importantly, these interviews highlight the need to standardize processes of communication within marketing as well as with external stakeholders.

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