This post comes from some recent presentations that I’ve given to various marketing communities in Toronto. I was asked to convert into a post for more detail.
This was started with one seemingly simple statement, Marketers are becoming technologists. From there the story gets much more interesting and complex.
Marketers are becoming technologists is a statement that could be used across organizations and roles. I would say more accurately, business leaders are becoming technologists.
For a bit of context, I co-founded a digitization company 5 years ago. Our specific focus is on extending brands and customer experiences into digital experiences—some online, some offline. We build foundational and frictionless customer experiences. Everything from brand identities, marketing websites, SaaS platforms, digital installations at conferences, to retail pop up design.
It’s becoming exceedingly rare that we are working with IT as our primary stakeholder for digitization work. We are primarily working with marketing, sales, and C-level professionals within organizations.
This article is just a reflection from our expertise on how technology has evolved, will continue to evolve and what that will demand of all the roles involved.
Before we dive too deep, let’s unpack where all of this began.
First! Where did it all begin?
Some key pieces of technology that have affected what we do.
Foundational Skills Development. The 90’s
Web at this point was mainly about having a digital storefront and online face.
- HTML prominence
- ‘91 first website
- ‘95 internet explorer
- Dot-com boom and bust
Web accessibility and democratization of tech. The 00’s
During this time we saw exponential everything. Increased reach, channels, competition, new business models, access, speed, accessibility.
- Mass communication (Facebook, My Space, instant messaging, blogging, Shopify)
- Web API’s
Scaling up. The 2010’s
- Rapid growth of data centers
- SaaS finally a proven business model
- Responsive web design
Greater efficiencies, brand new channels, more flexibility.
For time’s sake we will focus on the few that are driving some serious change in strategies.
No code/low code movement
No Code is for ‘citizen developers’ or business users who can build functional but generally limited sites/apps without having to write a line of code. No code often excludes the need for developers. In contrast. Low Code helps to streamline and simplify the development process for developers. Often times this means leveraging APIs and third-party services to deliver enterprise applications with little or no hand-coding (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbloomberg/2017/07/20/the-low-codeno-code-movement-more-disruptive-than-you-realize/#2296c90c722a)
We are in very early stages of the movement but the disruption comes from this new control for companies and business leaders. This will bridge the gap between enterprise-level applications and simpler initiatives by organizations. It will also make it faster, easier, and more cost-effective to prototype new ideas or services.
Prototyping as a service
As we get an increased level of flexibility and user data, we should all be thinking of our digital initiatives whether its a website, landing page or product. This new flexibility should open up the ability to ask deeper questions about how the product can be better, how can it be improved to further drive ROI.
Prototyping as a service helps to drive this approach by rapidly prototyping and testing, before committing development resources. For companies that run products, this type of service helps streamline decision making and commits resources only to features and prototypes that are thoroughly tested.
Progressive web apps (PWA)
Think of progressive web apps as websites that act and feel like apps. New browser technology has enabled the ability for websites to be designed and developed in a way that they can be installed on home screens, receive push notifications, and work offline.
This has huge benefits to investment costs, searchability, and flexibility of potentially all applications (to varying degrees short term but huge potential long term).
Other evolutions that are relevant:
- CX and user expectations. As user expectations increase, it’s going to put more and more pressure on the customer experiences that organizations are planning and deploying.
- Tech procurement. An increase in digitization is going to create more and more urgency around making decisive technology choices.
- Process Evolution: Digitization strategies require a different type of thinking and process than traditional initiatives.
What will the future require from marketers (and others)?
1. ) New Mindset: We can do anything.
First and foremost approaching a problem with a blank slate. Technology is becoming more and more flexible and there are varying degrees of investment needed to solve a problem. Properly defining the problem, outcome, and then figuring out whether the software is off the shelf, custom or a mix of both.
2.) Process: If we can do anything, then what is the right way to do it?
As Marketers and business leaders, there are a lot of insights and key processes we can use from the design and development world. Things like MVP’s (https://designtennis.com/insights/the-value-of-a-minimum-viable-product-mvp/), rapid prototyping, and iterative design are processes that should be incorporated into these strategic projects.
3.) Transformation: Are we all just becoming product companies?
When it comes to digitization (internal and external) I would argue yes we are. Digitization in its simplest form, a marketing website—and the audience—is rapidly changing. Websites are not static properties that never change. If you truly want to leverage the power of digital, then rapid prototyping and iterative design are crucial. We should all view our websites and all other digital initiatives as products. If they are a product, it means that they should have a roadmap, a lifecycle, prototyping, and user testing.
With physical distancing in place technology has become an even stronger driving force for businesses. With that being said, with the increasing pace of technology changes and demand come an increasing pace of complexity. As business leaders it’s just as important to stay up to date with new and evolving processes as it is the technology driving the change.