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Making the Case for Your Ideal Technology Stack

November 06, 2019 | By Jennifer Rouse

  • New marketing, sales and operations leaders must evaluate their entire inherited technology ecosystem to determine its ability to support team goals
  • Proposals for new technology investments often fall flat because of an inability to present a clear business case that addresses business leaders’ concerns
  • Drawing a clear connection between business objectives, technology dependencies and the solution is the way to create a winning plotline for your tech proposal

Ever feel like your marketing technology stack is more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa than the Empire State Building? We often add pieces of technology to solve an immediate problem, but we rarely stop to take a really good look at the foundation of our technology stack. We just keep stacking and stacking until it finally threatens to fall over completely. The famous Tower of Pisa finally became so precarious that the Italian government invested more than £30 million to straighten it just 18 inches — enough to prevent collapse, but not enough to correct the problem permanently, which would have been too expensive.

leaning tower of pisa

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, these issues more common than we would like to admit, and just like with the tower, it can cost you dearly, either in direct dollars spent to correct the problem, or in lost productivity due to a complicated or inefficient technology process. 

So … what’s the solution? 

If you are lucky enough to come into a situation in which there is no technology already embedded, you can start your process from scratch and plan based on a strategy that will help you build an effective stack for the future. But, honestly, how many of us have this luxury?

Most likely, you have inherited a tech stack and have no idea why certain choices were made. If this is your situation, you need to start by evaluating your current stack (including cross-functional technology stacks that may affect your marketing stack directly or indirectly) and then recommend options for adding and deleting components. Although that may seem daunting, the hardest part is actually making the case for your recommendations to your leaders, who will make the final financing and implementation decisions for you.

If you find yourself in this position, follow these five keys to success for selling technology investments to ensure your technology stack looks more like the Empire State Building than the Leaning Tower of Pisa:

  1. Tie technology to a business need. Think about what problem are you solving that C-level executives care about. Without this, you are just presenting another expense with no obvious ROI.
  2. Prioritize projects by business impact. Every marketing plan has multiple projects and programs that may depend on technology to be successful. Do not present all of them as equal; instead, prioritize your projects on the basis of business impact and recommend them in order of importance. Account for dependencies and risks when prioritizing.
  3. Factor in people, process and change. The leadership team you present to will want to know how you are planning to ensure success. Just plugging in technology is seldom effective; technology is usually quite dependent on people and process. You will need to evaluate the skill sets on your team (as well as recommending new hires, agency help, or consulting help) and any process changes that will need to be made.
  4. Know your audience! Tailoring your presentation to the orientation (sales, product, marketing or finance) and style of the most highly engaged members of the group will give you a leg up when making your case for investment.
  5. Know what you will do next. If you get a “yes,” make sure you have an implementation and communication plan ready, as well as metrics and checkpoints to ensure success. If you get a “no,” don’t panic. Ask for the reasons behind the answer, and ask for a commitment in the case that those issues are resolved. You may want to offer other options, such as a pilot/test or alternative technology solutions that may be more readily accepted to those who gave a negative answer.

Using these five keys to success will not guarantee that your technology changes will be accepted by the leaders who ultimately hold the purse strings, but it will give you a distinct advantage over others who may be fighting for the same dollars. Remember, your technology stack can enable your marketing strategy, or it can cause it to completely fail; making the best case possible for your technology decisions is undoubtedly in the best interest of you and your company. 

If you would like to dive deeper into the five keys to success mentioned above, join us at the “Selling Up: Making the Case for Your Ideal Tech Stack” session at the 2019 SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange December 10-11, 2019 at the Gaylord Rockies in Denver.

Jennifer Rouse

Jennifer Rouse is a research director in the Emerging Growth Strategies service at SiriusDecisions. She is a successful high-tech marketing professional with almost 20 years of b-to-b experience, including over 10 years in management.

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