Voice tech, AI, machine learning, augmented reality — you’re doomed from the start without the right base

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At the beginning of every year, marketing leaders love to discuss the key tech trends that they predict will take off: artificial intelligence, machine learning, voice tech, augmented reality, social media and much more. You name it, and there’s a marketer out there shouting about how latest tech X or tech Y is the future of marketing.

As marketers evaluate new technology to their tech stack, they evaluate how each solution will help alleviate a pain they might have in terms of creating a great customer experience or insight into optimising their customers’ journey across channels. They also assess how the new potential technology will work with all the other technology they have as part of their marketing strategy. Will AI really help me improve customer service? Will machine learning help us to personalise experiences better? Will voice tech enable us to engage with our customers in the way they want to be engaged?

Then, when the organisation has decided to take advantage of one particular tech trend, one of two things happens over time. Either the organisation embraces it effectively and it slowly begins to transform their business, operations and customer satisfaction levels. Or — and more commonly — two years after the initial investment in technology X or Y, the marketing team hasn’t delivered enough ROI, and you have some awkward explaining to do to the board.

Now, as a marketer, you don’t want to have to invest in every technology — you only invest in those that your customers find useful. But what if the failure to adopt a new technology the first time around means your brand will also fail to jump on the latest innovations that then turn out to be transformative? It’s a case of sliding doors.

While sometimes the issue with adopting new technologies revolve around internal processes and cultural difficulties, often the issue lies with the underlying existing technology platform that the organisation has in place — rather than any issues with the new technology itself.

How legacy technology is halting the adoption of new technology

For most brands, their website is the hub of their digital activity and the one of the most critical assets marketers have to engage customers. These websites are usually managed by marketers (and the IT department) through content management systems (CMSs). However, a great number of CMSs hold organisations back from innovating.

Legacy CMS systems that were designed for a website-only world often fail to serve organisations trying to deliver content via alternate channels such as mobile, AR, VR and voice. Which means any efforts to embrace new technologies — and deliver new experiences for customers — are doomed from the start.

The result of legacy infrastructure is that organisations then look for ‘workarounds’ to get any new technology to work. Organisations are constantly looking to turn to technology to solve their problems, and so they invest in point solutions that, over time, build up into a heavily fragmented IT environment that is difficult to manage. As a result, the experience from the customer’s point of view suffers from significant inconsistencies, which renders the investment in the technology in the first place pointless.

For CMOs to face the challenge of continued technological evolution, they need to change their strategy and regularly assess whether their CMS gives them the opportunity and flexibility to innovate and carry out their plans. That idea that you loved in your recent brainstorm — are you really going to be able to execute that if you haven’t got the right underlying tech to support you?

We see Drupal as fundamental to addressing this challenge. Drupal forms a future-looking platform that enables marketers and IT teams to build exactly what they want, quickly.

If you can think it, you can build it with Drupal

Drupal works on the premise of “freedom”. How? Drupal is an open-source technology that is continually improved by the thousands of Drupal developers over the world all racing to be the first to solve real business issues through code. The freedom Drupal gives marketers far outstrips proprietary CMSs, and the ability with which Drupal platforms can integrate with future generations of technologies is also much more flexible. Should any new technologies arise that you want to take advantage of, Drupal makes integration easier than traditional CMSs through open APIs.

With Drupal at the core, marketing teams can be free to market in the way they want. They’ll implement a multi-channel strategy effectively, without needing huge support from the IT team. And by giving more power and time to the marketing team to build their own experiences, marketers can remove the barriers to innovation and build exactly what they picture in their brainstorms. There doesn’t need to be any barriers at all when it comes to the experience.

And while an multi-channel strategy by its very definition means “multiple” channels it doesn’t necessarily mean “all channels”. The beauty with Drupal is that you’re not limited to just a few select channels and technologies. If there’s something out there that you want to jump on, you can do it without having to worry about constraints.

This type of approach also allows marketers to adapt campaigns quickly should the need arise. For example, if an organisation invests in voice tech, which exceeds the business’s expectations in terms of customer experience, the business may decide to invest in machine learning to enhance that experience further. But implementing this fast-paced and experimental approach requires a marketing department that has the freedom to act quickly based on results.

Ready, set… G—

Going back to the beginning of this article, where marketers love to predict the future, often some of the best-hyped technology turns out to be a fad. One could argue, for example, that Snapchat’s plateauing will spell the end of the app. Or perhaps voice tech might turn out to be largely ineffective. But every now and then, a technology comes along that changes the face of marketing.

Will it be machine learning? Or AI? Or augmented reality? Whatever the technology, make sure you have the freedom to take advantage.

Sylvia Jensen, VP of EMEA marketing, Acquia
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa