The Promise of Low-Code Approach for MarTech Product Teams

The latest Scott Brinker MarTech Lumascape shows the list of technologies surged to almost 10,000 logos, up 24% from 2020. We also witness the advent of new sectors, such as Commerce Media and Identity tech.

This MarTech proliferation breeds complexity as emerging products need to support the increasing amount of modules and integrations with other platforms. The development costs associated with it are increasing, while the shortage of engineers with domain knowledge is becoming a pressing issue. Many of these performance bottlenecks can be addressed with the low-code platform.

So much of what you accomplish is driven by the tools you have at your disposal. When things are highly complex, as with building complicated software, you need experts to drive the process. Experts can be costly, and they’re not always trained in the ins and outs of the end product, which means it can take a while to get exactly what you need.

Consider the famous Dürer’s Rhinoceros. Superbly talented German printmaker Albrecht Dürer was tasked with depicting a rhino. Never having seen the animal, he based his painting on a written description and brief sketch. You can see the result for yourself; he depicts an animal with rigid plates covering its body like sheets of armor. Regardless of their skill, if your contractor has a vague understanding of the subject, the final product will hardly resemble your product vision.

In a way, building software isn’t too different. Software product teams face the same challenges when creating solutions in response to market changes, which range from consumer adoption of new devices or channels to regulations that govern how businesses reach and engage consumers. Basically, product teams have two choices – neither of which is ideal. They can build a solution from scratch, which is incredibly resource-intensive, or they can buy a white label solution (if it exists) and customize it to meet their needs. In both cases, it’s the engineers, not the people closest to the end product and customer, who will drive the vehicle.

Given the fast pace of today’s digital marketing and advertising sectors, is there a way to put the product team in the driver’s seat? How can you enable them to create solutions tailored to a specific set of needs and bring the product to market in time to deliver a meaningful, competitive advantage?

Frequently faced with performance bottlenecks in the housing industry — like the swiftly changing MarTech landscape that makes products with long software development cycles obsolete — we tend to look at other sectors for guidance and inspiration.

In that spirit, let’s look at the automobile industry to see what we can learn. In the early days, auto manufacturers had to build cars from scratch. They couldn’t source engine parts from a component manufacturer because the industry was so new, and ancillary companies simply didn’t exist. Cars were far less feature-rich, and it was said that drivers had to spend as much time under their vehicles tinkering with the engine as they did actually driving the car.

Today we have an ecosystem of manufacturers that deliver predesigned and pre-built components to auto brands. These brands can offer best-in-class features, from batteries to sound systems, without the bother of building them. Equally important, cars have become highly standardized, enabling any driver to operate them, regardless of brand. There are superficial differences – the buttons to turn on the fog lights can differ from brand to brand – but the essentials are the same. Drivers don’t need to spend any time learning how an engine works in order to get from point A to point B.

Considering the growing scale of the MarTech sector, the same evolution ought to happen with software development in this industry. MarTech product teams won’t need an in-depth understanding of software development and can assemble the essential functionality from the prebuilt blocks, allowing them to focus on driving the disruption.

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The Next Stage in MarTech Software Development

Lengthy and costly software development cycles are no longer inevitable, thanks to no-code and low-code platforms and offerings. For instance, Roblox, a gaming platform for kids, offers no-code building blocks that allow children with absolutely no programming skills to build their own games (in some cases, teenagers are using this no-code approach to earn millions of dollars!).

What can business leaders learn from these kids? It’s simple: The bulk of any software is the infrastructure that can be redeployed for other solutions. Low-code is a set of components that product teams can mix and match to create software applications that meet their needs quickly and easily.

There are a few ways that the no-code and low-code approaches will revolutionize MarTech software businesses. First, it empowers the product teams to drive the software development process, which is ideal as they are the ones who spend their days thinking about the functionality customers need in order to enjoy using the software, continue benefitting from it, and stay loyal to it. Why involve your engineers in building a data management function from scratch when there’s a module in a low-code solution that can be implemented quickly?

Second, it enables the software development cycle to keep pace with the realities of today’s market. Consumers move quickly, and businesses must keep up or risk becoming irrelevant. Today a sustainable transition to the post-cookie/post-MAID environment is driving a growing number of sales, but what will drive it tomorrow?

Finally, as low-code solutions are market tested, they lower the risk of facing interoperability and data integration challenges. For instance, let’s say you want to build a MarTech solution to deliver hyper-personalization engagements with your customers. To do it, you have to streamline the integrations with the major ad platforms to derive accurate analytics. When you are building your platform from scratch, even if you performed the integration by the book, following every letter in the guidelines, there is still no guarantee that everything will function properly. This is because everybody counts their impression differently and may send back the signal about the viewed impression at various times, significantly skewing the measurement on your side. A low-code platform will have all integrations already baked in, giving your brand one less thing to worry about.

Low-code and no-code solutions are, of course, not without their challenges. You won’t have nearly as much flexibility as you would if you built a solution from scratch. There are definite trade-offs to consider. For many, the decision comes down to: How quickly do we need to get to market to meet our customers’ expectations? If you don’t have a lot of engineering resources at your disposal or time to spare, low-code and no-code solve a lot of problems.

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