Technological innovation represents one of the biggest disruptive forces within the marketing supply chain. Automation, AI, and mass integration opportunities are routinely returning to businesses their most precious commodities: time and money. But the speed in which new solutions are developed, implemented, and subsequently superseded presents a challenge in building a technology strategy that meets current requirements while simultaneously accounting for what is around the corner.
The market is clear—organisations that embrace technology adoption have seen growth rapidly outstripping those who fall behind. Accenture finds that Technology Leaders have been growing at 5x the rate of laggards on average in the past three years. The opportunity is then also clear: for huge upside in commercialising technology solutions that drive the sort of value that continues to benefit industry leaders.
But a willingness to invest in technological innovation is only just the start. How can an organisation next craft an RFP that optimally guides progress amidst a rapidly developing technology ecosystem? We share three tips to help any organisation navigate the cluttered and confusing world of selecting a service provider that enables technology to deliver tremendous benefit.
- Simplify the Brief
The technology landscape is innately complex. Numerous applications, programmes & solutions all boast similar benefits often with similar or overlapping functionality. ‘We can reduce speed to market by XX%, saving you Y$$ dollars per month.’ It can feel confusing and overwhelming to see the wood through the trees, and to understand what technology solutions are right for your circumstances.
Keeping the brief simple and focused will ensure that potential vendors are forced to contextualise their own technology offerings in a way that is focused to your needs. When you think about requirements, consider the mandatories and the nice to haves, to establish the correct weighting of these features early in the process.
- Focus on Benefits, Not Function
Service providers that utilise technology can tend to focus on selling the bells and whistles of their solution to differentiate themselves from the pack—highlighting features meant to impress. As a result, organisations then can experience buyer’s remorse over a proposed solution that ‘over delivered’ but did not actually provide the value as originally intended. It is also worth considering that additional features naturally can bring with them additional complexity.
Avoid issues with training, implementation & critically unforeseen cost by keeping sight of your valued requirements when assessing vendor options. If the proposed solution is meant to save stakeholders’ time or ease the painstaking parts of their duties, then select metrics and KPIs centred around those values, confirm they are quantifiable, and ensure they play a central role in the responses provided by potential vendors.
Integration and API opportunitieswill be critical to consider here as well, because if a potential solution doesn’t fit within a broader technological eco-system, it can create unforeseen and unnecessary work. Utilise a minimum viable product to track the effectiveness of solutions in real time as it is developed to ensure your solution roadmap stays close to brief.
- Develop Modular Solutions
Prioritise vendors that can deliver modular solutions. No two organisational circumstances are perfectly alike, so when potential vendors boast of “off the shelf solutions that can do it all,” tread cautiously. It is not that these solutions do not exist, but rather that is impossible to be sure of the value any technology solution can drive that doesn’t fully consider the wider technological context of an organisation.
It is critical to understand your requirements in terms of highest to lowest priority, and to diagnose and build solutions with the support of the potential vendors solution architects. Doing so provides the balance between a specific enough solution with general enough features to meet the circumstance.
A vendor that employs modularity allows can more easily combine the basic building blocks of their technology with bespoke solutions to fit any organisation. This can also be a deeply collaborative process, informed by stakeholders across an organisation through-out the implementation. What a marketer requires will differ from procurement, which will differ from IT groups. A modular approach ensures the basic components are easily understood by—and beneficial to—all parties. Modularity allows for these parties to continually inform the solution as it is built, implemented, and tested.
The vendor benefits by having flexibility when selling their solutions, while the organisation gains organic input into the final product. As a given, a potential partner should know your organisation well. A deep understanding of organisational context, your strategic business goals, limitations, and technology infrastructure. A modular approach allows for a solution to drop into this context for maximum benefit.
Though it seems like the technology landscape is becoming more complex, this does not need to be the case. The potential reward for embracing the technological evolution is too significant to ignore. Following the above steps to simplify the process of selecting third-party solutions as well as maintaining focus on where the value is will help drive transformational change in your technology ecosystem.
Tom graduated with a Master in Political Economy and is a Prosci Change Management and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt practitioner. At SGK he has worked on key Consultancy projects across CPG and Retail, spanning process improvement, financial analysis, cost reduction, KPI measurement and resource modelling. Tom has also been involved in managing the development and implementation of innovation products.