The New CX Stack Makes the Business the Boss

By Phil Marsalona, Director, Tech Strategy, Merkle

Over the past few years, marketing has become the primary user and owner of customer experience technologies, taking the reins from its IT counterpart. Forward-thinking marketing teams are creating quick solutions to meet the needs of today’s fast-moving and ever-changing consumers. According to the 2021 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, enterprise leadership identified customer experience and digital commerce as a strategic priority for growth for the next two years.  

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CMO to own the total customer experience

While responsibilities are changing, it is important to understand that IT still plays a critical role within the marketing tech stack. Brands need IT to contribute technical expertise when implementing and connecting new technologies, apply governance, and react with the speed and agility that marketing requires – all with close communication between the teams.

The legacy tech stack was controlled and managed by IT and often accumulated a high amount of technical debt over time. It forced different business areas to conform to common definitions and had highly structured data access patterns for exploration and insight creation, making agility challenging. 

The new CX stack is wider and broader than the legacy martech stack, which was narrowly focused on traditional marketing use cases, including direct mail, email segmentation, and modeling. The modern stack can help automate broader customer experience needs, such as managing personalization and content at scale, as well as data science and machine learning. But perhaps most importantly, the new CX stack enables business users to rapidly design new use cases, test them, learn from the results, and then optimize experiences accordingly. 

The CMO’s needs

As the baton of ownership is handed to marketing, technology should be built so that the entire team understands how to use it. Don’t purchase technology for the sake of having the latest hot item. Instead, build tech capabilities that first try to solve for specific business needs. Ensure that your team advocates for and fully understands the purpose of its functionality and sees the flexibility required to scale for future needs. The purchase should achieve the CMO’s desired outcomes, rapidly implement use cases, and exhibit value. 

While there are numerous use cases that marketing teams look to activate today, here are a few of the most popular:

  • Orchestrate consumer experiences across channels
  • Enable business users to drive audience segmentation and experimentation
  • Seamlessly integrate digital behavioral data into the customer profile
  • Identify more unknown visitors across digital channels
  • Build a scalable marketing and experience data foundation for artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Track performance to quickly prove return on investment (ROI) from tech investments 

These needs require a new customer experience (CX)-centric technology stack. A new approach is the only way organizations can operationalize data for connected customer experiences and gain the flexibility needed to manage customer expectations and business needs, all while maintaining agility for future business needs.

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Requirements for the CX tech stack

This doesn’t always mean that you need to start from scratch. If you already have an existing platform and tool set, it’s possible that you just need to better structure, integrate, or support it differently. However, this modernization and ability to restructure your tech stack around business outcomes is key. For example, in our new cookieless world, finding privacy-safe ways to identify your customers is only becoming a more critical component. If your existing tracking technology can accommodate these needs, then refactor it. Ultimately, CMOs require a modern technology platform that is fast, adaptable, and empowers your organization to act on data. 

The new CX stack must embody several characteristics: 

  1. Be structured to solve for your current needs 
  2. Be scalable to grow as you go, so you don’t have to predict the future 
  3. Enable rapid adaption for frequent changes 
  4. Empower business users to access the data they need 
  5. Connect all your data to create a single view of the customer 
  6. Be built in the cloud using cloud technologies 
  7. Comply with privacy regulations

Building a CX tech stack with these characteristics is a must. Not only will it meet the current technology needs for executing today’s use cases, but it will also build flexibility for the future.

Getting started

The new CX stack enables data connectivity from across the enterprise to deliver experiences across all channels. 

Although marketing now owns the martech budget and roadmap, this doesn’t mean the relationship with IT should be severed. IT should still be involved with data governance and the plan of action to initiate use cases. The relationship between these two teams is vital for the success of this new modern stack. 

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