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In a recent webinar, Tableau–a MarTech industry leader committed to making databases and spreadsheets understandable to ordinary people–shared the story of their transition to a hybrid MarTech stack.
Using a combination of tools purchased from industry-leading software companies and tools built in-house by the Tableau engineering team, centralized around Lytics CDP, the company revitalized its stack with overwhelmingly positive results.
According to Jason Widup, who oversees Tableau’s marketing operations, successes included improved customer experiences, lower unsubscribe rates, improved internal efficiency, more accurate customer journey data, improved lead quality, better targeting through first-party data, and more self-sufficiency.
So, how did Tableau get to these results? How did they choose the right MarTech stack for their business? How did they know when to build and when to buy?
According to Widup’s webinar, the company had a clear set of rules in place while making these key business decisions.
As with anything in life, MarTech is a balancing act. You need technologies you can rely on. You need core functionalities that support your business objectives. And you also need to keep up with new technologies that support your business and serve ever-evolving customer needs.
For Widup, this meant prioritizing balance and taking a hybrid approach. Tableau wouldn’t trust a single vendor to excel in every tool. They’d choose tools from multiple vendors based on their company’s goals and needs. And where it made sense, they’d build their own tools and additions to support their growing stack.
Tableau has a smart engineering team and plenty of powerhouse marketers working behind the scenes. And so it was important to them not to choose any black-box solutions where they couldn’t see behind the scenes.
They wanted to know where their data came from, how the technology worked, how and where they could extend it, etc. No mysteries allowed.
While Widup isn’t opposed to taking advantage of support and service resources, it was also important to him that his team be able to eventually master all their tools and run them self sufficiently. This meant prioritizing open tools built to integrate with the rest of Tableau’s stack and be accessible and extendible by Tableau’s engineers.
When making the decision to build or buy a tool within their new hybrid MarTech stack, Widup says the key deciding factor was whether they could build and maintain tools that kept up with the competition. No point in building something and watching it be quickly outpaced by technologies already available in the marketplace.
This rule speaks for itself. Long-term goals are more important than short-term fixes. Consistent results are more important than the shiniest, newest, buzziest technology on the block.
Before choosing MarTech tools, Widup knew it was essential that Tableau understand its goals and overall business culture. The tools should be chosen (or built) to fit those goals and cultural nuances, rather than trying to wedge the business into a tool that wasn’t really built with them in mind.
This approach echoes what industry leaders said in a recent panel on the future of MarTech.
There’s a lot of data out there, and we know a lot about our customers. Sometimes this helps us personalize and meet needs. Other times, it comes across as creepy. For Widup, “don’t creep out your customers even if it’s easier” is a key rule of thumb when dealing with data–which is the foundation for your MarTech stack.
Latest features are shiny and exciting and often untested. They’re riskier than the tried-and-true. And Widup felt it was important to balance their risks by focusing on the core features of the MarTech tools they chose.
If you’re in marketing, you already know that the pace of the industry can be dizzying. New technologies are constantly showing up in your feeds. Companies are ever innovating. Research about customer needs and habits is always shifting.
Which is why Widup knew that if Tableau wanted to get anything done, they had to make firm decisions, move forward decisively and ignore everything shiny and new–at least for awhile.
Widup says the company handles this in sprints. They make decisions and move forward, ignoring the latest for a period of time, and then in between sprints they take the blinders off and take a look at the latest buzz in the MarTech community.
This means they’re not completely cut off from important new developments and opportunities, but during implementations and campaigns, they can focus on what they already have rather than what they might have tomorrow.
For Tableau, first-party data is the foundation of a successful stack. Their new tools—both bought and built—are all integrated with Lytics CDP. This centralized hub-and-spokes approach is becoming more and more common among industry leaders in an effort to create efficiencies, connect teams, centralize marketing efforts, and avoid silos.
As Widup makes sure to tell us in his webinar presentation, there’s no “right” way for every marketing team and business to approach their MarTech stack. A new startup where everyone is wearing 18 different hats might benefit from a single-vendor approach. A company with a large, experienced engineering team may be positioned to build some of the technologies it needs. And internal company culture is always a factor in these decisions.
But even if your company culture, strategy, customers, or engineering team don’t quite match up with Tableau’s, we think we all can learn a thing or two from their strategy. As they say, take what you need. Leave the rest.
View the full Tableau webinar for more on how and why they built their hybrid stack (and built it on the foundation of Lytics CDP).
And if you’d like to know more about how Lytics can support your business? We’d love to chat.