Customer Benefits Guide Tech Stack Decisions, Not Trends

To support today’s modern marketing organizations, technology is probably the single most important investment that an organization must make aside from staffing of course. When it comes to technologies that impact customer experience, the decisions around what those technologies are, and how they work have a very real bearing on your bottom line. Hence the name RevTech rather than MarTech. That’s right – your technology decisions significantly affect revenue!

So for whoever makes those technology decisions – your CIO, Marketing Director, Sales Manager or IT Department – you need to be aware that the effectiveness of your tech stack has everything to do with how well that stack is integrated across all customer facing departments. Furthermore, the expectations of what your technology should be capable of is at the mercy of your customers or would-be customers.

What makes tech stack success even more elusive is that those customer expectations are not a constant. You can put in the effort and successfully meet those expectations head on (bravo!), meaning you’re done and you have the perfect set of technology. It all works, it is nicely integrated, and it fits seamlessly together in service to the customer. Fast forward a couple of quarters and now customer expectations have changed based on new fads or trends, and just like that, you have more work to do.

Beware of Emerging Trends

Industry pundits love to pontificate, hypothesize and wax poetic about what new technology can do, and how it’s going to revolutionize whatever…let’s say…Segmentation, or Audience Definition through the power of AI. Next thing you see the headlines emerge like Tech Trends for 2021, or Your 2021 RevTech Stack is not complete without X. But buying ‘X’, whatever that may be isn’t actually as straightforward as I wish it would be – and I love to buy tech, especially X.

You see the reality of adding more tech is that now there is more to manage and integrate – and if you are adding something, does that mean you should be taking something out? If you take something out, does that break something else?

Every tool in your perfectly symbiotic RevTech stack, required lots of training, planning and maybe even holistic strategy / purpose. If it didn’t, then that wonderful customer experience wouldn’t have happened. So, adding new tech requires re-calibrating everything, and you may suddenly find yourself with ‘extra parts’ that don’t fit in anymore. What is more is that you may need to re-train staff or hire new people who will be able to make use of the new tools in this version of the RevTech Stack 2.0. The perpetual cycle of disruption, incongruence and incompatibility continues.

Be Guided by Business Objectives Over Fancy New Inventions

The key is to ground yourself in your business objectives and look at new trends through the lens of what added functionality they may offer. Will this new trend or tech help me achieve my organizations goals faster, more efficiently, or more accurately than what I’m currently doing? If that answer is yes, then you can proceed with the next step: assessment.

In assessment, you will want to look at the actual functionality. This is going to be difficult because technology vendors will often rush to market new functionality to align with ‘emerging trends’. The sad reality is that what some providers are releasing is a minimally viable product designed to support very specific and narrow use cases without worrying about compatibility in the bigger picture.

To avoid this feature trap, do a pilot or demo, read reviews and ask for references. In truth, there is simply no substitute for a pilot or a ‘dry run’.
Test out the new functions from new or existing vendors to see does this new thing have the potential to elevate your tech stack? Usually, that answer is no.

In my 17 year experience, I have found that new technology typically needs a couple of years in the market to iron out creases before it starts to show its true potential. If you have a fine-tuned system in place already, waiting until the new technology has properly marinated reduces your risk. With age comes wisdom for tech, incorporating mature new tech makes for compatibility, consistency, and in turn a more reliable customer experience. Inevitably, the end result is more revenue.

Let Customers Be Your Guide

As much as it pains me to say this, as a CTO and a technologist, tech trends are more often a distraction than anything else. They are great to read, like any good science fiction, they are inspiring postulations about the future possibilities. But when it comes to making business decisions based on what the trends are telling you, you’ll want to stay away from any pontifications and, instead, listen to your customers. Hear what it is that they are saying, focus on what they like about working with you and what frustrates them – and let that trend be the only one that influences your technology buying decisions.