From slow tech to fast tech – O2’s martech revolution

Paul Stevenson, head of marketing operations for O2, has overseen a complete overhaul of that company’s martech strategy – starting in B2B, but more recently moving into B2C. He spoke to Joel Harrison about the martech journey he and his colleagues have been on, the direction they are heading, and what they learned along the way

1. You need a vision of the future, and a roadmap for how to get you there

We did an audit last year which gave us a great overview of our own tech stack, which took about four months. There’s so much convergence going on in the market right now, it’s a very confusing place to be. Now we have a blueprint for the future, but it’s probably going to be a two or three-year journey.

2. Investment on martech will plateau soon – platforms may reduce in price, but you’ll also get more for your money

Here’s a great example: before implementing Eloqua, we used to invest heavily getting our customer address data right, fixing small errors and inconsistencies manually. Now there’s an Eloqua app called ‘Data Washing Machine’ which fixes this across our whole database in a matter of minutes. And it costs under $100 a year. It’s a great example of the kind of savings that I think we’ll see.

3. We’re working to consolidate the number of platforms that we use

You need to look at rationalising your tech stack, probably because there’s duplication, and because there is consolidation amongst vendors. They are all saying that they can do what each other do! You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘what actually is best-of-breed anymore?!’. Consolidation should be driven primarily to make your budget work harder, but also to give people easier ways of working – it’s easier to do this on one platform than four, and you want less things that can go wrong!

4. Collaboration technology could be the next cornerstone of your tech stack

We’re looking at this technology at the moment, with the aim of making the delivery of content more effective, working out all the project timeframes automatically, providing visibility anywhere around the world, and allowing multi-function teams to work harmoniously together. It should also allows you to identify bottlenecks in content delivery, and smooth out delivery. If you can smooth out delivery, everyone benefits, right down to the customer. Ultimately we’re not using new technology because it’s exciting, but because we want to provide the best experience for our customers.

5. Martech has enabled us to be agile – in terms of data, content delivery and to responsive to customer demands

Our management of data has become far more effective – we can do segmentation instantly, whereas before it used to take us up to six weeks. We can build and host our own campaign pages in two hours. And we can respond to customer behaviours and triggers, delivering back to them what they are actually looking for, at any stage of the customer journey.

6. This transition put our budgeting under strain

Traditionally when we were spending budget on creative and fulfilment, it was very clear to everyone what we were doing. You could build in this part of the budget. Now we are taking that liability into Opex, where we traditionally spent on other areas, such as creative and media. We are changing the structure, and building that in can be challenging. One way to achieve this migration is to create efficiencies. We covered the implementation costs of Eloqua within a year by savings made on creative and manual fulfilment through agencies.

7. Working with the IT function became extremely difficult

They thought we were taking their job. We have come through this now, and they recognise that marketing needs to have its own tech stack. Previously the technology that marketing used was scattered around the organisation in places like sales and finance. IT did an impact assessment before we implemented our marketing cloud solution and they came back with a worst-case scenario, in terms of both time and cost. The reality was much quicker than that..

8. You need to avoid the 'Frankenstack' at all costs!

That’s the tech stack that is a disparate set of solutions that are stitched together using all kind of workarounds to get it to what you need it to. Its highly inefficient and easy to break – and it probably won’t allow you to benefit from the automatic upgrades and enhancements.

9. We’re on a transition from slow IT to fast IT

The stack that runs our whole business is built on huge bits of technology, from traditional IT vendors. It’s a very slow moving world – changes are very slow to achieve. In marketing, we have new agile platforms. If I’m looking to deliver a new customer journey, and I want it to be omni-channel, it can be built in a matter of days, internally, at minimal cost.

10. Opening up new functionality from existing platforms is a easy and quick win

For example, Salesforce was implemented for our sales team six years ago, and there was marketing functionality on it that they had never used. We were able to access this without having to pay for it. We were only using about 10 per cent of the functionality of the platform.

11. I’d focus more on the scoping exercise at the start, if I had to implement Eloqua all over again from scratch

We didn’t understand enough about the potential impacts. I wish I had pushed the vendors harder on where we should focus our efforts – we were pretty blind. I would have created a tighter scope, got better definitions and worked harder to get the right talent on the job.

12. Martech will never remove the need for creativity and creative marketers

We will always need agencies for creative work. Once tech is defined, it must be an enabler rather than an inhibitor of emotionally rooted creative experiences. You could go out each week and buy a new bit of kit, but it’s not necessarily the big investments that make the biggest difference. We are striving to stay focused on customer issues. What are the options to address that? If it’s new solution, then we’ll look at it. Tech is an enabler to help you address business issues, but you mustn’t take your eye of the ball with KPIs and customer.

The rise, fall and rise of martech

Download the full report now to learn:

• How to plan for the future of your martech.
• How to enable creative and emotionally-rooted experiences.
• The role of agencies in this new world.
• How to be ready for what’s next in martech.
• 12 things that you need to do to achieve excellence in B2B martech.

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