Last month at MarTech East, I was practically tickled pink to be able to present “From Wild West to Business Best: Tales of a New MarTech Team.” This presentation walked through how SAP Concur built a martech team from the ground up in one year. It was so exciting to be able to share it because I lived it. I experienced firsthand the struggles that our team felt in the absence of a martech team and I was in the trenches as we worked to build a new team, new processes and new relationships. 

Sharing it at MarTech East, I learned that our story resonated with many of our audience members. We are a small team trying to do great things for the business, like so many others out there. We wanted to share our story to help provide some inspiration and guidance for other teams trying to tackle the same challenges. We focused on how to set up our team’s vision and charter, how we defined the roles and responsibilities and created a MarTech Council. We shared our comprehensive marketing technology inventory methodology and results. And, perhaps most important of all, we talked about our enablement strategy and how we focus on the prioritization of our training efforts. After all, we can have a full stack of best in breed tools, but if marketers don’t know how to use any of them, we aren’t seeing any value. We are far from having it figured out, but we saw significant progress in the last year and we wanted to share our lessons learned with the broader martech community. 

Prior to team existing who owned vendor selection? Also, how did you get the organization to align behind the MarTech team owning it?

Purchasing new tools was in the hands of individual teams and regions. If you had the budget, you could buy a tool. We lacked a cohesive vision and selection criteria. This siloed approach resulted in a lot of pain when certain requirements would come as a surprise late in the game. Moreover, our Procurement and IT teams were overwhelmed by the barrage of requests coming at them without global prioritization. That widely recognized pain was a big contributor to getting the business on board with the MarTech team owning new tool evaluations. Marketing leadership was 100% behind the idea, which gave us strong footing to begin with. 

We expected to be met with resistance. After all, each individual team was used to being able to do this on their own. But we were surprised when the primary reaction was relief. Our marketing groups realized they could not manage every part of the process effectively and were willing to turn the evaluations, and the navigation of our internal processes, over to our team. Additionally, for the teams who historically lacked a budget to purchase their own tools, the process gave them a path to seek out collaboration with other teams. Having the leadership buy-in, and the understanding of the benefit among the marketers, made rolling out the new evaluation process much easier. 

Who makes up the MarTech Council? Is it cross-functional?

It is cross-functional! I think that cross-functional element is the source of the MarTech Council’s success. We have representation from each of our regional marketing teams, as well as additional functional groups like IT, procurement and sales ops. When we started the MarTech Council, bringing those groups together at the same table was groundbreaking for our siloed organization. Simply through the opportunity to have conversations together, we have been able to make progress we never would have if we hadn’t invited so many groups to be a part of the Council.

How much of your time/effort is reactive to what global team wants in MarTech versus you driving proactive planning? How do you execute proactive planning?

I would estimate that 20% of our time is reactive and 80% is proactive. With the help of leadership support, our team has felt empowered to create a plan and run with it. We are the experts, and we identify where our efforts will have the most impact. Since we are such a small team, being strict about sticking to those predetermined priorities has prevented us from getting bulldozed by reactive requests. 

Our most reactive work is driven by new tech requests. When a new request is submitted, we continually evaluate and prioritize against outstanding requests. But when it comes to things like our enablement strategy, we adhere closely to our established plan. Our enablement plan for the year was focused on specific tools that needed additional support. We then prioritized those tools and began executing against those priorities. Creating enablement materials for the first-priority tools was given the majority of our time, and so on down the line. 

Overall, we have been able to be successful in this area by having the ongoing support of leadership and continually reminding people ‘if we do X reactive thing, then it means we cannot do Y planned thing.’

Who is responsible for creating training resources and policing consistent usage of the tools? Do you have a dedicated training manager? Who is responsible for creating training resources, written toolkits and knowledge-base articles?

Me! Okay, maybe not for absolutely all those things, but currently our MarTech team consists of two roles and I am the only one dedicated to enablement. With such limited resources, we frequently partner with our Global Enablement team (who works on enablement for all of sales and marketing), but that team is focused more on onboarding. For enablement materials beyond that, it’s my responsibility to prioritize the tools and execute on an enablement plan for the most needed materials. I create a lot of tip sheets, because I can partner with our subject matter experts in order to turn those around quickly. As far as policing tool usage, we are still thinking through the best way to go about it. Right now, we rely heavily on our regional analysts who work more directly with the marketing teams.

If you had to compress what you did from 6 months to 6 days what would you do?

Let me start off by saying, I am eternally thankful we did not have to do this! One year went by fast enough! But if I had to, I would have still begun by doing a MarTech inventory. With only six days available, it would not be able to be as in-depth as ours was, but I still think it would be crucial to have a consolidated list of all the marketing tools. Even without an in-depth analysis of each tool, I would still prioritize gathering the most basic understanding of whether the tool was providing the value it should be or not.

From there, I would have focused on getting the new tech request process rolled out and establishing the MarTech Council. Without a process for incoming MarTech requests, the inventory would have quickly been rendered useless. I think a MarTech Council is a key part of that evaluation process, so even though working through who the right people are to serve on the council would take a lot of time in those six days, I think it would be worth it.

After all that is done, hopefully, there is still at least a little time left to begin to sketch out an enablement plan. What tools are globally available that have an urgent need for training support? Even just picking one top tool can provide some excellent direction.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

During an average day at SAP Concur, you can find Emily hard at work on a variety of enablement materials for their ever-growing tech stack. She is passionate about people and about equipping them with the tools and processes they need in order to make their jobs easier. In addition to being responsible for the marketing technology enablement strategy, she works to streamline martech processes and encourage communication between our global teams. Emily is also a Marketo certified expert and leads a weekly internal Marketo user group called Marketo and Doughnuts.

Kimi Corrigan on stage at MarTech East in Boston.

Marketing operations expert, Kimi Corrigan from Duo Security at Cisco, led the MarTech East session, “How to Organize and Coach Outstanding Marketing Operations Teams.” Corrigan shared her passion for helping teams work more effectively and offered insights on navigating the work culture and the need for honest feedback. She also happens to love Schitt’s Creek and made references to gifs from the show that are relatable to her work and the reason some attendees wanted to know about her favorite character (she shares that at the end).

What is a theme for your coaching conversations?

An equal playing field. I think the best coach-player relationships are built on mutual respect and trust. Different people feel that trust by different means. Some people respond well when I share my own similar challenges and how I worked through them. Others may respond better when you share clear expectations. What I’ve learned most is that there is little to be gained by not being open to sharing or being ambiguous. 

How do you determine when a certain business request requires the need for a project manager?

Nearly everything has some level of involvement with our project manager. Even if it’s something we don’t need a project manager to manage we typically have the requestor put in a work request for the PM to assign to the right person on the team. She has the best view of the workload of each person on the team. She also acts as a buffer for requests that aren’t fully baked and projects that might have scope creep.

How large is your marketing ops team and how many project managers support?

In total, we have five full-time members of the marketing ops team, including the project manager. The PM also supports our demand-gen team of six. 

I’m from a place where there is a culture to not give honest feedback. Do you have any advice for bringing radical candor to your workplace where it would otherwise be misconstrued?

Have your team read Kim Scott’s book, Radical Candor. Her advice was perfect. “Tell your team that you think you have not been Radically Candid enough and that you’re going to try to make a big change.”

By communicating that you want to improve, you’ll show your team that you’re serious about the cultural shift. Prove that you mean it by asking for their help. Ask them to rate your feedback as well.

By building a collaborative process, you’ll improve your own impromptu feedback quicker, and you’ll help your team see first-hand the impact of Radical Candor. When they see the improvements, they’ll also be encouraged to make the change themselves.”

What is YOUR favorite episode of Schitt’s Creek? 

Impossible to pick. 

Favorite Schitt’s Creek character?

David will always be my #1, but I grew to love Alexis almost as much too. 

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About The Author

Wendy Almeida is Third Door Media’s Community Editor, working with contributors for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. She has held content management roles in a range of organizations from daily newspapers and magazines to global nonprofits.

Jorge Garcia onstage at MarTech East in Boston on Sept. 17. Photo credit: Jesleen Jose

Jorge Garcia, Senior marketing manager at Akamai Technologies, shared his company’s journey to protect their data and brand in his MarTech East session, “Securing Your Martech Stack: Partnering with IT and Enterprise Security.”

A lot of questions around the roles of purchasing and managing martech stacks and “owns” the privacy compliance process, were submitted by session attendees, so I wanted to answer some of them.

Q: IT teams often tell marketing that they’ll choose and run your stack. Do you now have a clear agreement about respective roles and what did that take?

Mostly. I say “mostly” because the industry is ever-evolving and each new technology raises questions about roles. What we are clear about is our engagement when these questions come up. We have a regular forum for these discussions and a practiced motion of how to address them. That rhythm took a while to build, but it started with requirements gathering. We changed the conversation from “We want this tool; how and when can you help us get it?” to “This is the problem we’re trying to solve and the capabilities we’re looking to enable our marketers with. What do you think?” It created a collaborative environment instead of a transactional one. 

Q: Who makes the decision on which tool/company to go with?

It’s a collaborative process between legal, security, IT, marketing and procurement. I know that might seem a bit excessive, but it ensures we’re picking the best vendor for our needs and that key stakeholders are involved at the appropriate stage of the purchase.

  • Legal provides advice and support for contract review and data protection agreements
  • Security ensures the tool/company is compliant with our risk and information security policies
  • IT supports the technical assessment of integrating the tool into the existing infrastructure and processes 
  • Marketing is the key stakeholder that advocates for their requirements and vision
  • Procurement drives the RFP process, demo scheduling, negotiation, and coordination with Legal

I like to think of marketing technologists as the bridge builders of marketing, especially for new tech purchases.

Q: In a distributed marketing organization the emergence of a martech group like yours can get backlash that you are just replicating IT in slowing down what marketing needs. How has that gone for you?

At first, not great. Any time a team comes in to add process or centralize responsibility, there’s the risk for an accompanying resentment or expectations of restrictions and bottlenecks. We weren’t the exception.

Early on we spent t he majority of our time telling the martech story and finding champions who understood our mission and supported our efforts. Then we demonstrated that story by relying heavily on transparency.  As our partnership with IT matured, the overlap between our teams diminished. Over time, stakeholders were able to see the extensive body of work that goes into managing a martech stack, bringing on new technologies, providing ongoing support to existing technologies, and the unique skillset of translating business requirements and technical requirements. Someone who speaks Spanish to a person who speaks Italian can get by; but the world opens up to them when they have a translator.

Q: Is privacy compliance built into your process? Who owns it?

It’s absolutely built into our process. Where I work, we’re entrusted with delivering and securing digital experiences for the world’s largest companies. A critical component of that trust is in our commitment to the privacy rights of our customers and our employees. We’ve built privacy compliance into our processes across the organization, and especially into our processes for evaluating, assessing, or implementing new technology.

Our Global Data Protection Office sits with in-house counsel. They own developing, implementing and maintaining a comprehensive corporate-wide privacy program and policy framework. The rest of us are responsible for working within those frameworks and embedding privacy into everything we do.

Q: If a vendor has some sort of certification – such as ISO 27001/02 – does that make your review process more streamlined?

It does. I wouldn’t say one certification is better than another for our reviews, but typically, vendors that have gone through certification are those that prioritize security and compliance. As a result, they’re more likely to have considered many of the areas we assess during our security review. I typically ask for ISO 27001/02 or SOC 2, but they aren’t a requirement, more of a facilitator.

Q: Does the request to IT/security start with business requirements for a tool or a recommendation from?

Before a request makes its way to IT/Security, it’s vetted and prioritized by marketing leadership. Bringing in the leadership team early has been integral to our success prioritizing projects. With over 7,040 marketing technologies in Scott Brinker’s latest 2019 Marketing Technology Landscape, it’s dangerously easy for martech teams to get distracted by shifting priorities. Making strategic decisions about our investments at the most senior level ensures everyone across the organization is aligned to our initiatives and understands why they were prioritized. 

Once those decisions are made, we bring in IT and share marketing’s business requirements. Our team works with the requestor to understand the what and why of their request: What is the problem they’re trying to solve and Why do they think technology will solve it. We use these requirements as our foundation for working with IT to develop an initial scope, phasing design, systems impact analysis, and prioritization plan. The outcome of these discussions, our Security review, and the Procurement process help us narrow down the best vendor to solve and meet our why.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

A lifetime learner and an innate problem-solver, Jorge Garcia found his home in the marketing technology industry. His 10-plus years in sales, sales management, program management, marketing analytics, and marketing operations roles with large organizations have prepared him for the unique mix of problems a marketing technologist faces. He hopes his energy and zeal for technology will attract fellow martech enthusiasts looking to push the industry forward. Jorge is a senior manager of marketing technology at Akamai Technologies, a Cambridge-based company that secures and delivers digital experiences for the world’s largest companies. His natural curiosity for improvement opportunities and passion for discovering innovative solutions means that in a given week he might perform a preliminary security assessment, present tech strategy to leadership, facilitate an integration review, and build a sync architecture all before Wednesday!