07 Sep Calling in the ‘A’ Team….
…..why granular expertise can make a difference in a world of proliferated marketing technology.
Marketing technology has proliferated and grown. Its impact to marketing is so significant that an entire service industry has grown up around it to help people, install it and use it …however, the success stories can sometimes be hard to find. Why is this?
- Speed of change:Marketing technology moves quickly and the service industry needs to run to keep up. This means as a services provider you have difficulty in maintaining a bench of people across a variety of skill sets. How can you respond to requests for Adobe, IBM, SAS, Oracle, Microsoft etc. with granular expertise? This lack of expertise leads to “certified consultants” “having a go” for the first time. This learning on the job can invariably lead to lengthy projects, over-run and re-work and in some “worse case” scenarios, cancellations of the project. Of course it’s how people learn but they need to learn from someone.
- Marketing Technology disrupts itself:The speed of development in technology to meet and fine-tune the response to the problem or opportunity means clients will require new technology more frequently to make sure they can stay ahead of the competition. Again, resulting in service providers creating a way to stay broad in skills. This is expensive and difficult to maintain and has done the independent contractor market the world of good. However, businesses don’t always want to put the success or failure of their projects in the hands of individuals.
- People move around: Marketeers like a “technology project” that is going to solve a problem quickly but they know what they know and I have seen perfectly useful systems thrown out a number of times because the client is more familiar with a different technology. As marketing becomes a “technology” decision maker in its own right less involvement from IT and with a higher turnover in marketing, this can lead to this constant change becoming endemic. This means tools can have the lifespan of the sponsor… again meaning a variety of technology skill-sets is required to deal with this frequent change of preference.
- Results focused implementation, configuration and installations of technology are hard to find: This is because they are often led and controlled by IT and informed by marketing so the objectives are different. IT success is driven by the technology being configured, set up, installed and delivered. Marketing success is measured by the outcome that it has enabled. Many service providers have grown out of a wide scale support for the IT industry. They think in a similar way. We are measured by the success of the implementation, configuration and, installation, not the purpose it was brought in for. They see that as the business responsibility and “you can take a horse to the water”. Both IT and marketing must be aligned and equally the service provider. It’s not about responsibility or culpability, its ownership of the purpose.
- Safety has been selected above expertise: The big service provider is always seen as safer if you are investing significant budget in a programme or project. However big service providers are not always attractive to the granular experts and as suggested, everyone struggles to maintain those broad skill sets. It is a vicious loop with clients finding the allure of the “safe pair” of hands counter to a successful and cost effective project because they are not getting the expertise required in some of the most important areas of technical and domain expertise.
- When to call in the “A-Team”:We hear about “right off” a lot. At what point do you call in the recovery crew? It is often a massive dilemma when a project is way behind schedule, over budget and looking like it’s delivering on only 30% of the business case. Clearly the answer is “before you start the project!” This is not always possible. Stopping the project, taking stock and looking at all elements of the project often, is hugely valuable. People and operating model, internal barriers and politics, business buy in, etc, all can be difficult to make judgement calls on – but that’s a separate discussion. In short you need to bring in the technical “A-team” when you are convinced that simple errors are being made, documentation seems poor or in scant supply and you are seeing and hearing about the success of other projects in the market place that seem to counter your own experience.. So when you need to bring in the recovery crew how do you find them?
Well good people are everywhere. They really are, unless you are really cynical. Great people are difficult to find. But most long-standing recruitment agencies know how to find them otherwise they wouldn’t be long-standing… Excellent, truly excellent people are the “Needle in the Haystack.” Now I didn’t say flawless or perfect just excellent… we work in an industry where excellence is revered but too often imitated by having some letters or certifications brandished under your nose and to the uninitiated, this will suffice. I firmly believe that excellence is born out of love. Love of the thing you do, I have witnessed time and time again the significant difference that expertise and excellence can have on a business and project and it is something of significant value.
You look for the people who love to build engines, they want to make and build better engines, and they want to see them working, moving and making a difference and an impact. They don’t want to talk it or sell it, get involved in business or programme politics, they want to do a job that their peers acknowledge as being excellent and that as a result, the client would turn to them time and time again safe in the knowledge they will deliver. You could of course start by talking to myBench.
Written by Dan Telling