Technical differences, by Waseem Afzal, general manager of Transact, OMD’s e-commerce arm.

‘Don’t be dazed by the complexity of the technology landscape.’

This statement consistently made the headlines in most high-profile industry conferences both regionally and globally in 2017. There is no denying the fact the technology landscape is complex and getting more crowded, and is still evolving very quickly. Even though it does garner a lot more attention than ever, very few people can figure out where to start.

Technology continues to advance, which means the landscape will become even more fluid in the immediate future. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s a positive sign. As investments in marketing services continue to grow globally with this evolving digital, media and consumer landscape, we see a lot of opportunities for strategic discussions around technology coming to the fore.

Many companies focus squarely on the outcome rather than the output, leveraging a host of external factors from competitive pressure to marketplace dynamics to influence their business direction. While this is not a bad approach, there is a missed opportunity in not looking at internal factors, of which tech is an important element.

Clients and agencies have covered significant ground with the integration between agency partners, channel planning and execution, and measurement of marketing investments against the bottom line. There is still both an opportunity as well as an essential need to build true integration across the tech ecosystem. After all, it is the foundation that connects insights with data, content with consumers and performance with results.

The complexity in the tech landscape is so vast that the industry started long ago to define what piece of tech sits where and thus the terms ‘mar tech’ and ‘ad tech’ started to surface. Yes, I’m sure you’d have heard of these and wondered if the distinction adds any value to the ultimate objectives.

I have considered many points of view on why people believe mar tech is different from ad tech. One view is that ad tech is for paid media investments and earns its revenue from a share of investments, while mar tech addresses owned assets and earns its revenue from software subscription models.

Regardless of the view you subscribe to, simply put, these technologies, whether they are managed in-house by a client or outsourced to a partner, help us achieve what we have always aimed to deliver in marketing: higher revenue for our clients’ businesses.

Something has changed though: technology no longer sits with IT departments where CTOs make all the big decisions. Today, it has moved down to every function of the business. To succeed in moving the bar on performance in an ever-changing consumer landscape, we must align tech with the understanding of the real data we need and, more importantly, act upon it to unlock synergies.

The convergence of mar tech and ad tech will require a whole new mindset to adopt and implement an all-encompassing solution that is truly inventive and helps brands increase their competitive edge.

As brands fine tune their 2018 business strategy, there are many facets of marketing and advertising competing for their budget. The best advice is to make technology a top priority and not allow the complexities to become a hurdle. The plethora of technology platforms may appear a little overwhelming but digital shouldn’t be confused with technology. To make sense of it all, companies should start by assessing their platform or technology needs from an end-to-end point of view. They need to also place equal importance on integration within and across the platforms as much as adoption and implementation of the tech stack.

Our imperative should be to think more broadly, adopting an end-to-end approach and acting in a more integrated way. Ultimately, we need to work together as agency, brand and tech leaders to drive the technology agenda forward and ease our clients into adopting them from start to finish. Once we do this, we will not only benefit but win, including as consumers.