The relentless focus on new technologies such as generative AI and ChatGPT in the news media, at conferences, and in vendor pitches obscures the bigger picture: Technology plays a supporting, not leading, role in enabling certain consumer experiences or marketing execution. Even though companies innately know that they shouldn’t lead with consumer or business technology decisions, it’s easy to be dazzled by new ways to solve old problems. Thus, companies repeat bad habits and tend to approach technology as the solution without establishing a strong strategy and tackling the less glamorous people and process prerequisites first.

For consumer technology: When faced with the question “Should we try that newfangled consumer tech, like the mobile app 20 years ago, social media 15 years ago, the metaverse two years ago, or ChatGPT today?” follow the POST methodology: people, objective, strategy, then technology. You’ll need to understand the digital touchpoints that your customers use and how (people). From there, articulate a clear business objective — this should be a customer-focused objective but is unfortunately more often an internal-facing objective such as marketing, sales, service, etc. (objective). Then you can get down to brass tacks by deciding a strategy and discerning what content and services you have available to support. At this step, you should also determine the internal stakeholders and processes to execute those tactics (strategy). Finally, land on the right consumer technology only after you know what you want to build, why, and how (technology).

For business technology: Vendors might pitch a simple technology fix to solve your martech needs, and you’ll find yourself entertaining new additions annually, if not quarterly. But you should first align tech to process (and not the other way around): Define your ideal marketing process, visualize how marketing campaigns come together today, conduct user interviews internally, and balance rigidity with flexibility. From there, fold people and processes into your martech strategy: Understand how new tech would impact your current processes, map employee journeys to learn how tech impacts the employee experience, and demonstrate the value of any new tech to internal stakeholders. Process isn’t flashy, but it provides the foundation to ensure that your company — and especially your marketing and your martech — are operating effectively.

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