Today’s rapid changes in technology have left many companies behind in the digital transformation that is shaping the future of marketing, sales, commerce and client engagement. At Ventana Research we have seen this change coming, having been close observers and analysts of technological shifts for almost 15 years, providing continuous research and guidance to the technology industry. Now the leading edge is the digital point of engagement with customers through websites and social media. Earlier this year I wrote about mastering marketing mayhem in a meaningful, meticulous manner explaining how organizations can adapt to the new digital reality. Well, we are taking our own advice. Ventana Research spent the first half of 2016 reflecting on lessons learned and best practices from our research and advisory efforts. The result is our new community and website, www.ventanaresearch.com that we have announced and is available for everyone on the Internet. With it we strive to set an example of simplicity in engaging an audience in need of insights and education on technology applied to business.
As an industry analyst firm that reaches a broad array of business and IT buyers we wanted to simplify navigation and consumption of information that is pertinent to their needs. Along the way we realized that our own part of the industry does not anticipate the future; a quick navigation of other industry analyst firms’ websites to reveal their shortcomings in digital transformation. Simplifying access to and presentation of information requires a shift from approaching the industry through research categories and departmental titles to an approach focused on expertise and topics that enables multiple roles to gain a common understanding of the technology that best fits their organization.
To create our own digital transformation at www.ventanaresearch.com, we assessed the requirements of today and the future to determine how to deploy the resources and competencies of our organization. We were determined to further leapfrog our competition and set an example to show CMOs and other executives what can be done to reach a high level of digital effectiveness. We prioritized our requirements to become digitally more effective in the daily postings and promotions of our content to our community. Once our strategy and design were complete, we put all our effort into making the transformation in less than 90 days; that emphatically did not include developing custom code and taking a legacy approach to digital engagement.
We assessed our current technology providers, which included Ektron, Marketo, and WordPress, to see how we might leverage the combination of our experience and their latest technologies. After close review we decided to scrap the existing technology stack, which was integrated and relied on our own customizations that created limitations for the digital engagement we desired. Next we examined a series of digital stack approaches for our requirements, moving from a long to a short list of HubSpot, Marketo and Salesforce. Using our own research’s software evaluation criteria, we prioritized the usability, manageability and adaptability of these offerings to determine our technological path forward.
Ultimately we selected HubSpot to unify our approach to digital engagement across inbound and outbound interactions, social media, content management, analytics and reporting, as well as the use of notifications that streamline the workings of our entire front office of marketing, sales and engagement. Marketo lacked a significant transformation in its approach to inbound marketing, content management and unified analytics and reporting and fell short in seamless integration with other technologies; the company lets it customers to integrate its partner’s technology. Salesforce had similar challenges and is still working through full integration of its acquisitions and product roadmap, and its price points are not really designed for small and midsize businesses, especially when it comes to analytics. Both of these vendors did not have the integrated digital technology stack that we desired to advance our marketing and engagement efforts and would have required significant consulting and customization.
Technology relationships are never easy and getting software running smoothly and adapted to your needs, but our HubSpot account and support team were effective in answering our questions and attacking our challenges. HubSpot is not perfect and has limitations that we worked around including: its content management system (CMS) called Content Optimization System and lack of effective digital search and support for more advanced web controls, better account based marketing (ABM) support and better community and commerce support. Unfortunately, we did not get any executive support from HubSpot; the top level did not appear to be interested in dialogue with us as a customer using its product and promotion of it in the market or discussion on the product areas we found lacking. This was surprising in light of the volume of interactions we have with marketing and sales organizations on digital technology transformation. But we did what you do as a customer in making technology work and made the best of it. Despite these challenges we are satisfied with the digital marketing technology and ease of use to help our team to engage and use the product. Please take a look at the new www.ventanaresearch.com and see for yourself.
I believe that once you experience our community you will find our education and research easy to access and consume through simple, direct navigation. The challenges that I laid out earlier this year is essential to build the mastery of marketing performance and now we have set the foundation to embrace the drive toward digital effectiveness of an organization. And a little self promotion is healthy especially when you feel proud of your team and efforts that advances your brand and marketing effectiveness. If you are looking for fresh perspectives on digital technology to simplifying your marketing processes, engage with us. We’re confident that we can help in your efforts.
Mark SmithCEO & Chief Research Officer