Alignment: The Cure for Your Technology Hangover
- Siloed technology procurement creates misalignment and duplication and lowers ROI
- Focus alignment efforts on capabilities or processes that are shared among sales, marketing and/or product organizations
- Data, cost and criticality help determine which technologies should be aligned
Over the last decade, B2B sales, marketing and product organizations have brought in a lot of new technologies that have helped them reach new audiences, achieve revenue goals, and conduct business in new and exciting ways (think Web site personalization and nurture streams). However, even when these groups have worked on their organizational alignment through shared vision and goals, those efforts rarely extend to technologies themselves.
SiriusDecisions research shows that highly aligned B2B organizations achieve 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability than other organizations – and technology is a key driver of those gains. By contrast, procuring technology with little or no regard to alignment increases confusion, frustration and duplication, and it can even negatively impact customer experience and revenue.
So you need to align your infrastructure – but what is an aligned technology infrastructure? It’s a collection of technologies that are selected and architected in such a way as to effectively execute on core sales, marketing and product processes, measure the results and achieve collective goals. You want to drive alignment in technologies that exhibit a medium to high degree of criticality to business processes and are distributed across multiple groups. But doesn’t that cover everything those organizations do?
One word: focus. Sales, marketing and product organizations share several processes and capabilities, such as lead management, persona development and messaging, and the customer lifecycle. The best place to start is large overarching processes or capabilities that cut across two or more of the aforementioned organizations. From there, you can audit the processes and uncover technologies that are shared or siloed within these groups.
To help pick this select group of technologies, focus on the following three criteria. If a technology meets one or more of them, it should be considered a priority for alignment:
- Data. Go with the data flow. Where is data shared? Who has access to it? Within lead management, data in the marketing automation platform is used to create a lead score. These scores are then used to rank and prioritize contacts that are sent to sales, with a history of interactions. In essence, data is accessed and shared by marketing and sales, and there is a direct handoff of data between two major systems – marketing automation and sales force automation. Any major change to one of these systems should be evaluated for its impact on the other.
- Cost. While splitting the costs of a technology purchase among the sales, marketing and product organizations might seem like a foreign concept, many of these same organizations have had similar arrangements with the IT department. Chargeback models have been used – with varying degrees of effectiveness – for years in IT as a means to drive alignment, engagement and involvement of the benefiting business unit. If your audit finds that a system is being paid for by more than one organization, it might be a good candidate for alignment.
- Criticality. Ask the following question about each system or application: “If Technology XYZ was pulled out today, would the business as a whole still be able to function and achieve its goals?” If the answer is yes, then this technology is probably not a good candidate for alignment. In other words, is it a must-have or a nice-to-have? This isn’t to say that nice-to-have technologies are not important in their own right, just that they are not a priority for aligning your infrastructure. If the answer is no, this technology is critical to reaching key business goals and should be considered for the alignment effort.
In future posts, I’ll discuss what needs to be in place to make sure your technology procurement decisions are made with alignment in mind to help you prevent another technology hangover.