People, technology, and other hybrid solutions

MANY organisations are failing to get the investment results that they had hoped for, partly because of peer pressure to transform where and how they interact with consumers.

Hybrid lifestyles allow us to shift between physical and digital worlds, and seamless experiences have become the expectation. That’s forced marketing leaders to rethink interaction strategies — and question the effectiveness of the supporting technology.

Demand may be putting pressure on leadership, but the supply side is also of concern. The acceleration of wide-scale digital transformation has new players offering niche functionality and industry-specific products and services, at lower costs than the incumbents.

Murray Allen, Optima Partners
Murray Allen

The growth of aggregators — systems that enable greater cohesion of technologies — is enabling more flexible and tailored technology stacks. That means more opportunities to combine best-of-breed solutions.

Murray Allan, of tech consultancy Optima Partners, suggests starting with a well-defined customer strategy. Even the best tech will fail to deliver business value if it’s driving the wrong outcomes.


Factors to consider include:

  • Scale
  • Reach
  • Current and potential value
  • Shared personas and behaviours
  • Needs and interests
  • Motivations and frustrations

The next step is to clearly articulate how to unlock value through key value-drivers: the series of actions and behaviours that generates customer and business outcomes. And the more customer outcomes, the greater the ROI.

When it comes to technology, sometimes it can be difficult to separate a bold promise from what is commercially viable. Before investing, evaluate new technology against a well-defined set of capability requirements, and link these back to business objectives.

By avoiding scope-creep and over-investment in capabilities that are unnecessary, under-utilised or too advanced for the business to support, resources will not be wasted. “Capability requirements should methodically capture not only technical business needs, but also establish how the technology will be used,” says Allen. “Well-crafted requirements will support a more comprehensive vendor evaluation and make it easier to delineate between solutions — which is often the biggest challenge.”

A sound cost-benefit analysis must be made to fully understand the levels of risk and reward, and to validate the commercial mechanics involved. “Examine any tolerances in assumptions, inputs, and probabilities by modelling an array of outcomes,” adds Allen, “and assess the envelope in which the business is willing to operate. Make sure any thresholds are valid and realistic.”

Some organisations are quick to blame the tech, but that isn’t always the case. In most situations, businesses overlook how the technology is being applied, used, and supported. Investment in engagement tech can be cyclical, with “rip-and-replace” an all-too-common “solution” — that doesn’t treat the problem. The cost of behavioural change is often underestimated.

Technology isn’t even always the answer. It needs an efficient operating model to be effective. It’s vital to build the relevant competencies, content, and workflows around it.

This takes time and must be carefully planned and managed. Invest time to plot a realistic capability roadmap to ensure technologies are properly embedded within the operating model.