Why Your Digital Marketing Business Demands Technology Leadership

Posted by Dave Conder on April 21, 2016

As digital technology becomes more integral to every aspect of digital marketing, strong technical leadership is becoming an absolute necessity to ensure success and cost-effectiveness.

In the Harvard Business Review article, All Boards Need a Technology Expert, Jean-Louis Bravard explores issues in technological leadership at the board level. Mr. Bravard is board member, investor and advisor for several European and US technology companies. In his article, he makes a few key points you may find surprising:

  • After reviewing major banks in Britain, Bravard found that only one of them had a board member with direct technology experience -- even though banks rely hugely on technology for their very existence.
  • He sees similar trends within corporate boards of other industries as well.
  • Many industries employ outdated technologies and/or don't have a clear long-term technology strategy.

It seems somewhat counter-intuitive, to me at least, that so many companies that rely so heavily on technology don't have deep experience at the governance level.

Bravard also urges action for companies to ensure that they have the right governance and technical leadership to reduce liability and ensure success. The never-ending parade of data breaches and hacks on our new feeds certainly adds a sense of urgency to this message.

But what about digital marketing?

I believe there are a lot of parallels between the points that Mr. Bravard makes and the world of digital marketing, including:

Technical Strategy
Just as in banking and other large industries, technology leadership isn't simply about tactical execution. It also has to look at the bigger picture from a strategic viewpoint. This leadership needs to understand the market opportunities, go-to-market strategy, and how to layer a technology roadmap into effective execution.

Platform Choices and Investments
Platforms matter. The days of choosing a platform only because your developers' preferences are over (or at least they should be). There are many considerations that need to be evaluated - including license costs, development efficiency, flexibilty, feature set & capabilities, skill set matches, and ease of use.

It is critical, especially for larger projects and initiatives, that the right choices are made. Poor platform decisions and execution are a double whammy...when a bad decision is made, not only will the platform need to fixed or replaced (typically at a high cost), but the marketing performance will likely be poor, causing lost market share and revenue.

If you haven't seen it, take a look at ChiefMarTec's Technology Landscape Supergraphic:

This already complex document literally becomes more complicated by the month - without technological leadership, strategy and focus, picking the right partners and tools can become an incredible challenge.

Keeping your vendors and partners honest
We often run into unfortunate scenarios in which our clients are put in a tough spot by previous decisions and actions of their technical vendors. In many of these cases, it becomes clear that the vendor either didn't understand the client's needs, or simply didn't execute well on their promises. 

Without some level of marketing-focused technical leadership, it is very difficult for a company to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of a given solution. Is it well-designed? Is it well-built? Is it maintainable? While it may be tough to really answer these questions in depth without digging into the solution, having leadership with technical experience is critical to at least know the warning signs to look for and the proper questions to ask.

What if you don't have the leadership on board?

Finding good digital technology leaders is neither easy nor inexpensive. Many marketing teams simply don't have the resources to bring this kind of leadership on board. In these cases, the most important thing is to find a trusted consultant or partner that understands your business model.

Agencies such as BlueModus are focused on providing leadership and expertise on many levels, and we have partner networks that can provide specialized services in any area needed. We understand digital marketing and how technology fits into it, which provides great peace of mind for our cleints and partners. 

In Summary

The fusion of technology and digital marketing is so vast and deep that to maximize your success you need true technical leadership on your marketing team. If large corporations in huge industries continue to struggle, it's certain that smaller marketing teams are going to have their challenges as well. Digital technology leadership can pay huge dividends in the efficiency and effectiveness of individual initiatives, as well as the longer-term ROI of the entire marketing team. 

A final thought - while the role of leadership is an incredibly important one, it's also critical that your entire marketing team continues to stay up to speed on the technology landscape you're working in. There are many wonderful resources out there, but a great place to start is one of my favorite thought leaders in the space: Scott Brinker's excellent Chief Marketing Technologist blog at http://chiefmartec.com/.


Dave Conder
Dave Conder has been using technology to create value and solve problems for more than 15 years. His background includes technical management, network architecture and design, security, and application development. As CTO, Dave ensures that BlueModus always uses the best people, practices, and tools to deliver world-class digital marketing solutions.