For those of you who do not know me that well, I spent over 12 years in management consulting with Accenture. (Yes, I was one of the original And-roids as our competitors used to affectionately call us.) During that time, the name of the game in helping companies with new strategies was to look at them from a "business integration" perspective. That meant that for an organization to make improvements and changes in any part of its business, we felt that four aspects needed to be accounted for:
- Business Strategy: Understanding and defining a business' key goals and objectives and the corresponding plans to achieve those objectives
- Process: Understanding the current processes a company uses, and reengineering those processes in order to drive sustainable improvements in performance
- Technology: Ensuring the correct technology is built or implemented to support the newly reengineered processes
- People: Ensuring that the people responsible for managing and executing the new processes are well trained, with the right skills, and are incented appropriately in order to execute and sustain the new changes within the organization
Since my days there, I am sure much has changed in and around the methodologies and approaches, but I still think those four tenants hold true. But unfortunately, like many of the unsuccessful change programs of the 1980s and 1990s (which of course NEVER happened at Accenture), the people component was often a mere afterthought, if acknowledged at all.
Now, what does this have to do with demand generation you may ask? Well, demand generation and the corresponding strategies and best practices that are espoused across the many blogs and conferences today, are just like any other business change initiative. They still require attention to all four areas to ensure that the benefits and ROI are attained. There is no doubt that SaaS or on-demand applications have made the technology component much easier to implement. This is especially appealing for marketing organizations that are looking to marketing automation to support their lead generation strategies, but in turn don’t want to lean too heavily on overly-burdened IT resources to get the solution in place.
But what about the marketers themselves? Does the technology magically make them heroes in their organizations? Were they just given the keys to the newest jet airplane without knowing how to fly? Unfortunately, some of the old-school mentality around lengthy training requirements, inches and inches of workbooks and manuals, and cumbersome set-up requirements continue to detract from the promised benefits. To take a lesson from Salesforce.com, if a user just wants to manage a set of contacts, he or she should be able to log on and go. In the world of BtoB marketing, if I want to send a relevant and timely email to a prospect, I should be able to segment my list, build my message, send, and analyze. And then, when I am ready to apply more advanced automated demand strategies, I should have the options to do so. Of course, advanced capabilities still require advanced training, but only when there is a need or the organization is ready. Marketers have enough on their plates already without over-complicating an otherwise straightforward process.
In closing, if your organization is considering the move to marketing automation, remember to keep tabs on the adoption by the end marketing users, as they are the real heroes that will make it succeed or fail.
To me, that is Demand Generation 101, no PhD required.