We have seen it happen many times throughout the years in our industry -- a rush to the newest, greatest toy, which is usually some newfangled technology. Given that a whole host of folks in our industry came up through the technology ranks, this should come as no surprise. But beware, while some technologies might be fun to play with, they may not work as promised and may even hurt your brand or business.
Advances in technology are quick and even more so in our industry. As Jody Pirello, VP of technology at Netplus, said, "If you are not passionate about web technology, you can be left behind in an instant. It changes on a daily basis."
What makes our industry particularly unique is how technology interfaces with marketing and advertising. Marketers drool over how new technologies can help them better reach, engage, drive, and track new customers, which can help contribute to their overall bottom line. But just because a new technology is cool or smart doesn't mean it will apply to marketing objectives or create new ideas.
So what are the risks with jumping into emerging technologies? How can you mitigate those risks and make smarter decisions?
While some digital marketers have evolved their marketing skills along the way, there are still folks in digital marketing who may have no background in technology or digital. Yes, we all know that's true. And that creates a whole other set of challenges. Folks come to digital from all backgrounds, and the potential for essential gaps in knowledge flows mightily. Technologists don't quite see or appropriately evaluate the marketing implications, and marketers don't fully understand how the technology works. And for those with no digital experience -- well, then it becomes a total crapshoot.
The expanded role of technology in marketing exposes many to a multitude of potential bad decisions. Those bad decisions tend to fly more under the radar, but while the burn may not be as public, it can hurt just as much. To help avoid making a bad decision, make sure you are well informed about the service or tech product you are reviewing.
Understand the technology
Often times, sales folks who represent new emerging technology have no idea how it really works, they are just selling marketing speak. They are sales people. They present a sales deck, promo material, perhaps even a demo, but when you actually subscribe, buy, or deploy, it doesn't work as described. This happens -- a lot. It gets worse if you bragged about it to your boss, or promised a client it could do what you were told it would. And then it doesn't.
Then again, the technology could work exactly as promised but it's not grounded in sound marketing principles, so it never actually hits the right note with your customers or your business.
To avoid making these mistakes, make sure that you have access to the technology staff at the provider you are evaluating, and not just the sales people. Make sure you have someone on your end who also understands the technology and can ask the tough questions. Know what the benefits are as well as the risks, and have contingency plans in place.