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MarTech: Technology Management As A Marketing Discipline
As marketers, we’ve had a slightly conflicted relationship with technology.
The culture, philosophy, and mental models of marketing have been largely driven by “soft science” — psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics — and an even broader notion of “art.” We pride ourselves on the power of creativity, design, and language to affect people’s emotions, perceptions, and behaviors.
As a profession, we’re really good at applying those talents to grow brands and businesses.
Collectively, however, our profession has been less adept at engineering. Processes, systems, and technology have played a role in marketing, sure, but not a starring role. Historically, we’ve relegated those responsibilities to other departments — IT, finance, operations — or technical vendors. Or we’ve boxed them into finite “projects” that have a distinct beginning and end.
Building (or rebuilding) a website has been an archetypal marketing project. We’d interact with engineering disciplines for a fixed window of time — like you might engage with a contractor to redo your roof — and then we would declare it “done” and move on. Technology strategy and management were not integral parts of our daily mindset.
But things have changed.
Expressing Marketing Through Technology
In our modern environment, technology is no longer an occasional bedfellow. It’s the catalyst driving constant change — Google, Facebook, and Twitter are big software programs in the cloud, and every innovation of theirs alters our playing field. It’s our interface to our customers in the digital domain — software is how we “see” and “touch” them through the Internet. And it’s our “steel horse” — a digital motorcycle that lets us romantic cowboys/cowgirls of The Old Marketing keep pace in an age of high-speed information highways crisscrossing the globe.
And here’s where our relationship with technology has become conflicted.
We’re quite certain that marketing is not about the technology. It’s about customers and the market, which are still influenced predominantly by the soft science and art that our guild celebrates. Yet we can’t deny that marketing has also become tremendously dependent — some would say codependent — on technology to deliver the fruits of our craft at the speed, scale, and contextual plurality that the digital world demands.
This tension between what we do with technology vs. the technology itself is reminiscent of the debate of art vs. science in our industry. But they’re both false dichotomies. They don’t have to be opposing worldviews. On the contrary, there can be a virtuous cycle between the two: technology inspiring marketing and marketing inspiring technology. The boundaries between them quickly blur.
We resolve our conflict by embracing technology strategy and management as a native part of marketing. It’s neither master nor slave, but an equal partner in concept and execution. We learn to see processes, systems, and technology as expressions of marketing in a digital world.
It’s more than marketing operations. It’s more like marketing engineering. More accurately, it is the engineering of customer experience, from a prospect’s first touchpoint through their lifetime relationship with your firm.
A Technology Conference Expressly For Marketers
Earlier this year, Third Door Media — the folks behind MarketingLand, SearchEngineLand, and SMX conferences — and I decided to launch MarTech, a new conference series focused on the many facets of technology in marketing.
Our inaugural event is next month in Boston, August 19-20, and if you’re reading this in time, I’d like to invite you to join us.
Designed for digital marketing leaders whose destinies are now tied to deftly wielding marketing technology, the MarTech program will provide a mix of frameworks and case studies to harness technology strategy and management as an integral part of marketing.
You’ll hear from leading analysts at Gartner and Forrester; pioneering executives from BitTorrent, Clorox, Kimberly-Clark, Nationwide, and Scoitabank; technology leaders from Adobe, HubSpot, IBM, Marketo, and SapientNitro; and from special guest Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT, author of the New York Times bestseller The Second Machine Age.
Better yet, you’ll meet and be able to exchange experiences with your peers from top companies such as Acxiom, Autodesk, BMC Software, Boston Scientific, Campbell’s Soup Company, Careerbuilder, Chick-fil-A, Cornell University General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, Home Depot, Kellogg Company, LexisNexis, Life Fitness, Microsoft, NCR, Nestle Purina, New England Journal of Medicine, Pitney Bowes, Russell Investments, Sysco, Transamerica, Trend Micro, Wells Fargo, and many more.
This post was written by Scott Brinker, conference chair for MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference, taking place August 19-20 in Boston. MarTech is produced by Third Door Media, the parent company of Marketing Land.