Digital transformation is an incredibly daunting, yet incredibly important undertaking that all modern organizations should be concerned with. However, the question often seems to be: "Where do I even start?"

The paradox of choice

With the astonishingly vast technology landscape, particularly with the rise of SaaS and best of breed solutions, a one-size fits all solution is no longer the answer. Each organization (and department within it) has the opportunity to choose bespoke solutions for each one of their unique needs, preferences and business processes. However, this often introduces the paradox of choice, and it’s easy for executives to become overwhelmed with the thousands of tech solutions, options, and promises of saved time, increased efficiency and more revenue, especially when numerous team members are sure that they’ve found the magic tool that should be the first priority.

Involving the C-suite early on

One common mistake that companies make during digital transformation that can ensure it will be an overwhelming and inefficient process, is not making it a strategic priority, and not getting executive management involved at all. Successful digital transformation includes the right combination of people, process and tech and the technology chosen needs to align to the company’s business objectives. Though it’s easy for executives to delegate technology decisions to people that are more closely involved with technology and IT (maybe even more tech savvy), it’s very important that the digital transformation process has executive oversight. 

Simply put, onboarding any new technology is often a much bigger undertaking than most people realize. If every department selects a tool that will help them improve their own processes, this opens up a can of worms that includes a ripple effect of how the change in this department will affect others, and is a one way ticket to a repetitive cycle of solving problems and inefficiencies which simply creates another for a different business area. Again, align technology decisions to business objectives and desired outcomes. Don’t throw money at a problem. Throw strategy at it.

If digital transformation is approached strategically, it is much easier to see the big picture and identify the hotspots of organizational inefficiencies and ensure these are ironed out first. When the baseline technology and processes are sorted out, it is much easier to pinpoint departmental inefficiencies.

What is foundational martech?

This brings us to foundational tech, by definition, the baseline or minimal technology you need for your marketing team to begin the digital transformation process and ensure you are operating efficiently as a modern organization in a digital world. Though it’s important to look at your own situation and see what is most important for you, we suggest considering the most consistently common pieces of technology that an enterprise organization needs, across all industries and business areas.

Foundational martech includes DAM (digital asset management), CMS (content management system), MAP (marketing automation platform) and CRM (customer relationship management).


What do these systems help accomplish?

  • Digital asset management - Self-service tech that enables companies to organize, find and share relevant and up-to-date content internally and with external partners. The “single source of truth” for digital content.
  • Content management system - Tech that enables companies to publish publicly-facing content to the web for various purposes.
  • Customer relationship management - Tech that enables companies to have a single source of truth for all interactions with customers and prospective customers.
  • Marketing automation platform - Tech that enables automated content and information distribution to prospective customers.

For more information on these foundational marketing technologies, check out our guide:

The core four essential marketing technologies

Foundational martech platform investments such as DAM are initiatives that can be triggered by other factors, such as:

  • a new website redesign
  • a rebranding initiative
  • or even mergers and acquisitions

Foundational martech for a new website design

For companies going through a new website design, they will need access to their content library to select and utilize the most impactful digital assets by way of analytics so that the most fit-for-purpose content can be used in mockups, in-progress drafts, and final website output.

Foundational martech for a rebranding initiative

For companies going through a rebranding initiative, they will want to make sure that old assets no longer being utilized by employees (leveraging special features such as limited usage or archive status helps protect the wrong assets from being utilized.)

Foundational martech for companies going through mergers and acquisitions

For companies going through mergers or acquisitions, they will have to think critically about how everyone will have self-service access to all new company content across the two newly joined companies.

Foundational martech: stronger together

Whatever the trigger is for building out your foundational martech stack, thinking strategically about how you can most efficiently implement the multiple new systems that you might need, and how you will maintain business as usual during this change are key.

By thinking about transformation realistically and not avoiding the fact that one project or one platform won’t solve all your issues immediately, you are able to plan appropriately for the (perhaps long term) end result of a few different systems, but all implemented in the most effective way possible.

Digital transformation isn’t something you do once and you’re done. And simply having foundational martech in place isn’t enough either. Content choreography, foundational martech that plays well with others, fit-for-purpose integrations across your tech stack -- these all require a bird’s eye view of how everything at the micro level come together to meet your larger strategic business goals.

Taking a ‘big picture’ look at the entire lifecycle of your digital material and work processes, rather than isolating the pieces of your ecosystem, might slow down the process initially but will pay off in the long run. Optimization is not necessarily about making each piece of the puzzle work perfectly in isolation, but more about making them work most effectively together.

Finally, align martech investments to business objectives in order to craft a digital foundation for the future. 

Ready for more on marketing transformation? Get our 8-step checklist for successful digital transformation.