KISS Martech Complexity Goodbye

Perhaps you’ve heard of the well-known KISS acronym – Keep it Simple, Stupid. This principle is said to be created by aeronautical engineer Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson and was first noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. Later adopted by the military in general, the gist of the KISS principle is that most systems and designs work best when kept simple. Therefore, unnecessary complexity should be avoided. KISS’s origination pertained to aircraft design, addressing the need to create simple designs that were easily repaired under combat conditions.  However, the ‘keep it simple’ principle could really be applied in almost any facet of life, including business operations.

It’s tough to imagine an operations scenario in which unnecessary complexity is a good thing. However, it seems the KISS principle might be harder and harder to honor these days. Technological advancements and application and solution developments continually emerge. Although much of this progress marches forward in the name of simplification, the sheer number of solutions available today is becoming a complexity all its own.

Massive Martech

Marketing technology (martech) solutions are no exception. There has been staggering growth in this sector, with an estimated 5,000+ martech solutions available as of summer 2017, a 40% jump from the year before. With so many options, it’s very easy for a marketing operations group to piece together a mosaic of applications and solutions that can assist with any number of tasks and initiatives. According to the Internet Trends 2017 report by KPCB, the average enterprise uses 91 marketing cloud services. Problems occur, however, when these solutions are acquired haphazardly, creating a disjointed marketing stack. (A marketing technology stack is a grouping of technologies that marketers use to conduct and improve their marketing activities.)

To keep martech acquisition and use from creating disjointed operations, marketing leaders must develop and adhere to an overall martech strategy.  Each addition to their marketing stack must be vetted against that strategy to ensure it is directionally sound. This includes evaluating its compatibility with the rest of the marketing stack.

Inclusive Integration

The term “compatible” isn’t quite as exclusionary as it once was thanks, in part, to improved integration capabilities. Take integration platform as a service (iPaaS) technology, for example. An iPaaS can act as a connector between applications and systems that don’t natively communicate. This means that applications that don’t communicate straight out of the box still have a chance to integrate using iPaaS. Additionally, the user-friendly nature of iPaaS means marketing operations can perform integrations themselves, without having to involve IT (and adding unnecessary complexity). That’s in keeping with the KISS doctrine.

Disparate systems and applications must be able to share data to prevent siloed data sets, discordant communication, and damage to the customer experience. Therefore, integration should be a design principle for any martech strategy, as well as an essential qualifier for any piece of the marketing stack.

Following the direction of a solid martech strategy will help marketing leaders navigate a busy and crowded technological space. Marketers would do well to adjust the traditional KISS acronym to a new motto - “Keep It Simple and Strategic” - and always remember to KISS their own technology stack.