With companies focusing on building engaging, scalable ways to connect with leads and customers, technology is playing an increasingly important role today. However, many of these once-innovative solutions are falling short, failing to meet the companies’ evolving needs and customers’ advanced expectations.

What does it mean to modernize your martech stack and how can you best prepare for the future? Sagittarius, an award-winning Sitecore partner, held an informative breakout session at Sitecore DX Europe in London. Presented by Natalie Waite, Chief Experience Officer at Sagittarius, along with Nicolai Winch Kristensen, Senior Director of Solution Engineering at Sitecore, the two offered exceptional advice on steps any business can take to evaluate your current martech stack and make the changes necessary to deliver better digital experiences.

Defining the modernization of martech

How do companies manage all their tasks? Chances are, they are probably already using several marketing technologies. Gartner describes martech as a set of integrated technologies that enables marketing capabilities, such as efficiently and effectively targeting, acquiring, and retaining customers.

There has been a veritable explosion of marketing technologies in the last decade, all designed to help brands achieve their goals.

blog-image-slide8-960x540.jpg 

According to Scott Brinker, who’s been mapping the martech landscape since 2011, over the last decade we’ve gone from roughly 150 tools to nearly 10,000. But no one tool or platform can handle the entirety of a company’s needs.

Additionally, as Natalie pointed out, there’s also been a change of focus. Tools are now shifting to make a connection between content and data, as well as the experience being delivered. So how do you decide what to keep, what to add, and what to drop?

Natalie then shared a video featuring a series of industry experts from Sagittarius, Sitecore, and various other companies explaining their thoughts on why it’s important to modernize your martech stack.

Sagittarius-secondary-image-960x540.jpg 

The overarching theme that came up several times is that many companies have technologies in their stack that they don’t use, either because they are not fit for purpose, or they have outlived their usefulness but tied to an integration that is crucial for their business so they can’t get rid of it.

The main benefits for modernizing are speed, omnichannel reach, and flexibility – benefits that cannot be overlooked in this time of heightened customer expectations and shrinking budgets. But the most crucial consideration should be modernizing to a composable architecture that delivers on all fronts.

The composable conundrum

While companies must adapt to the accelerated pace of innovation by taking a composable approach, Natalie indicated that the word “composable” can be anxiety-inducing because of its amoebic understanding.

“Is it a thing? Is it a destination? Is it finite? Is it something that can evolve and change? Is it achievable?” she said. “So, in my view, composable is a bit of a red herring in the scenario because being composable is a multitude of things. It's composable thinking, it's composable business architecture, and it's composable technologies. … It's about business agility, organizing your tech stack to make your business more agile.”

The meaning of composability

Next, Sagittarius discussed the essence of being composable, from a high-level non-technical perspective.

According to the digital agency, “a composable DXP is a cloud-native SaaS platform comprised of best-of-breed modular solutions that leverage open-platform microservices architecture and integrate via APIs, in order to connect with internal and external systems”.

From this, we can identify four main components of composability:

  1. Modular: Being composable, or getting on the path, calls for an infrastructure consisting of different modules.
  2. Best-of-breed: Using the best modules for your business instead of being stuck in hard-to-exchange, complex legacy systems.
  3. Integrated: Loose couplings where you encapsulate your system as an atomic module.
  4. SaaS & lightweight: Offers ease of use, exchange, reuse, and scalability.
blog-image-slide23-960x540.jpg 

The importance of headless

Having a headless CMS in your martech stack is becoming increasingly popular, and there are a number of reasons why.

Headless CMS architecture separates back-end content functions from front-end functions. The front-end is detached from the back-end, allowing both to be developed independently. Headless means being separated, but still integrated through APIs, so you can create content and deliver it on any channel much faster.

It gives companies the freedom to build their own framework in whatever design and medium they want, it helps speed up content production, and most importantly, it opens the door to omnichannel marketing strategies. That’s why above all, headless is a mindset and a philosophy and can be considered part of the composable architecture.

“If you’re truly, fully headless, you actually have access to all the data and all the content in your underlying composable DXP,” Nicolai said. “That’s what we’re trying to achieve – being omnichannel and seeing faster time to market.”

Routes to headless

Sagittarius identified three ways companies can be categorized as they look to modernize their martech stack and the routes they can take to headless architecture:

1. The Big Bang

This is the approach when you’re ready to make a big change to your CMS – and it turns out it’s more cost-efficient for a complete rebuild to deliver all-new experiences to customers.

It also refers to brands that are migrating from one CMS to another, and they can redesign the experience in its entirety. Taking the “Big Bang” route is a significant undertaking, but upon completion it will enable brands to get content to market faster, with more efficiency, along with big gains in scalability so you can focus more time and effort delivering the right content to your consumers.

2. The On-Prem Gem

This refers to companies that aren’t in the right position for a total rebuild of the digital experience. You’re bound tightly to your current integrations and bespoke coding that will prevent you from launching a big upgrade to your DXP because of the time and resources it might take to accomplish it.

Companies must consider what existing components they need to refactor in order to best connect with their customers. To do this they need to focus on their unique ambitions, purposes, and opportunities. By being able to monitor their ROI and return on value, companies can see a steady progression and invest their time in building a business case that will later allow for an even more powerful transition to headless.

3. The Half and Half

Last, but not least, we have companies that are in between the on-prem gem, where they have integrations and bespoke coding that need to remain in place, but they also have the opportunity in other parts of their business to test and learn with a new architecture, a new way of thinking, and a new mindset.

The ingredients of success here are finding the right stakeholder buy-in and being able to monitor the returns for a customer-centric design. Meeting these requirements allows companies to start migrating slowly and progressively in order to build a solid foundation and prove the concept.

blog-image-slide30-960x540.jpg 

Preparing for the future

Before closing their presentation, Natalie presented Sagittarius’ framework developed especially for helping companies self-identify the direction they need to take in order to modernize their martech stack.

The process includes noting the type of experience being delivered (content, data-led, commerce-led), and the type of integrations used (minimal, heavy), and then the business readiness score is estimated according to the above information.

Sagittarius uses this framework to understand the needs of their clients and help them identify the Sitecore tools that can help them on their journey. For the award-winning digital agency, it all comes down to this: thinking about the potential and the impact the martech stack you will choose will bring to your business, and how the implementation and execution will progress.

Composable is not a destination but a whole journey, and the evolution of each company will be unique. And modernizing your martech stack is definitely part of this journey.

To learn more about the Sitecore’s composable approach, visit this overview where we expand on our product strategy.

Sophie Krokida is a Content Writer at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn