By Andrew Freeman, CEO of CRM Technologies
Even if your tech credentials are fairly strong and you are comfortable with the lingo, as a CMO your focus is likely to be on the bigger picture, making it hard to keep up with developments at a granular level (see our previous blog on ‘Why the CMO needs a technology wing man’). It pays to have the back up of a technology specialist, a wing man (or company) who can relate to your challenges and pain points and support you with an in-depth knowledge of technology solutions that can help. But choosing the right support can be a challenge…where do you start? What skill set is required and how do you know if their expertise is the right mix for your organisation?
Of course you can work closely with your CIO, leveraging their technical expertise in line with your marketing expertise; a winning combination when it comes to vendor selection. Marketing can take the lead in terms of the business case for the technology, while IT is usually better positioned in terms of skill set to assess platform capabilities. But sometimes an external specialist can add a new perspective, especially when it comes to making big decisions about vendor selection.
A technology wing man can act as an independent advisor when looking at platform selection and technology solutions, but only if they have a broad range of experience across a number of areas that equips them with the right expertise. Below are a few key questions that you might want to ask:
- Platform specialism – are they certified in several platforms or just one? Can they truly offer a granular perspective on the functionality of a variety of options?
- Certification and accreditation – what quality marks do they/their team have? How up to date are their qualifications and how regularly do they top up their skills?
- Skill set – in addition to the actual accreditation, look at the long list of their skill set. In terms of product knowledge and services delivered, can they offer the broad perspective in addition to delivering the detail?
- Experience and longevity – do they have long-term credentials? Are they an established consultant/agency with a track record you can trust and proven client expertise?
- Processes – specialist processes for evaluating different technology platforms can be an advantage - is this something they have developed?
- Sector experience – have they worked in your sector before and do they understand the peculiarities of how it operates? Clearly you want to avoid any conflict of interest with competitors, but solid sector knowledge is undoubtedly an advantage.
- Testimonials – beyond the website testimonials, who can you speak to who has used them before and can attest to their skill set?
Choosing a technology wing man might not seem essential and can certainly be challenging. Before embarking on any major investments in new technologies, it pays to take a moment to assess whether a wing man could save you time and money in the long run.