Why Educational Theory Matters to MarTech Adoption

Proven methodologies like SAMR & Change Management help Marketing Teams expedite a sustainable MarTech transformation and accelerate time-to-value on investments.

When EdTech Meets MarTech Adoption

The pollination of ideas across seemingly disparate industries can make a significant impact on the way we work. Take Henry Ford’s  production line, inspired by the slaughterhouse assembly lines and granary conveyor belts of the American Midwest. Ford’s appropriation of agricultural processes into automobile production made cars affordable for the masses and changed manufacturing forever. With the proliferation of digital technology in nearly every sector, there continues to be huge potential for ideas to cross-pollinate. 

While it seems unlikely that teachers would have any trade secrets to share with the business world, the education system can teach marketers a valuable lesson on how we can implement technology more effectively. For both educators and marketers, re-imagining and changing how work gets done can be difficult, even arduous. New ideas and technologies are often met with resistance from staff comfortable with familiar processes and routines. Advocates of educational technology (EdTech) know this well: though EdTech has huge potential to transform pedagogy and personalize learning, shifting from traditional, “one-size-fits-all” teaching can be slow without a plan to modernize classrooms and get teachers onboard. Gauging the adoption and pedagogical impact of EdTech has been critical to driving transformation in modern classrooms. Ruben Puentedura’s Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) framework enables educators to analyze the level of technology integration in their schools and plan realistically for further implementation. Using SAMR, numerous schools and universities have modernized their classrooms and paved the way for pedagogical innovation. 

For marketing leaders looking to advance martech integration in their organizations, the SAMR model – in conjunction with a change management plan – can be similarly instrumental to achieving success. Like schools, companies often struggle to maximize new technology, extending the time it takes to see value in their investment. Expediting technological change matters a lot to marketers, who are constantly at the forefront of digital transformation in business. Marketers, always competing for attention in a rapidly changing marketplace, risk losing opportunities to influence their audience if they are slow to mobilize the latest technology or approach. By applying the SAMR framework, marketing leaders can manage the martech adoption process to accelerate change, improving ROI in the process. Let’s explore how taking a purposeful approach to martech adoption can impact digital transformation within a business.

SAMR Matters to Marketers

The proliferation of martech in recent years has resulted in a massive expansion of options to reach audiences and use data more effectively. In 2018, nearly a third of CMO budgets were allocated to marketing technology. Marketers are spending more on tech than ever to convert sales and  increase market share. The purchase of groundbreaking marketing technology, however, often comes with the assumption that it will have an immediate and transformative impact on revenue. Without any plan for a comprehensive roll-out, organizations struggle to utilize their new software differently from the system it was purchased to replace. This basic level of Substitution, to put it in SAMR terms, can persist for extended periods of time until users receive training, close knowledge gaps and start to perform tasks with some functional improvements such as lead scoring. In our experience, many companies get trapped in these initial stages of technology adoption. Newer technology eventually gets purchased, and the cycle continues.

SAMR provides a framework for successfully leveraging the advanced capabilities of new technology to create outcomes that were otherwise impossible. Because SAMR is aligned with the science of how people actually learn, it enables marketing teams to create a realistic plan for achieving those outcomes. Without a plan, companies inevitably end up purchasing new technology and linger in the earlier stages of adoption, questioning why they never achieved the goals they envisioned would come with their tech investment. By mapping the adoption timeline against the SAMR framework, companies can accelerate the pace of integration and reduce the time it takes to get value out of their tech investments. 

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A Roadmap For Driving MarTech Adoption  

What does SAMR look like in action? A typical martech adoption roadmap starts with Substitution, where a new system is deployed and runs exactly like the previous one, but with the potential to achieve new tasks that could not be done before. With familiar processes still in place, users can enter the phase of Augmentation, or enhancing and extending existing workflows. Data augmentation enables standardization and enrichment of a marketing database, expanding audiences and increasing campaign reach. At this point in the adoption roadmap, the organization is starting to gain value out of the investment. Team members become more accustomed to the new platform and are in a better position to harness its capabilities.

Modification is the key stage where the transformation of processes begins. Getting to this step is the most difficult as it requires users to rethink the way they are using technology and change the way they complete their work. Attribution reporting, for example, is a function we connect to Modification because teams start using martech to determine how effective their marketing activities are in generating revenue. With this knowledge, marketing teams can make modifications to campaign investments that substantially improve lead and revenue generation. In the modification phase/stage, teams take risks with the system they have familiarized themselves with and solve problems innovatively. 

In the final phase, Redefinition, tasks that were previously inconceivable become a regular part of sales and marketing operations. Teams generally enter Redefinition  easily because they have already seen technology deliver some of the desired results, and have already “bought in” to the transformation taking place. For martech users, Redefinition might entail developing the capability to optimize conversions, adaptive nurture, or automating the buyer journey. Teams in the Redefinition stage find it difficult to imagine working without these technological improvements: the use of martech becomes an essential and critical part of the job.

Let’s look at a sample of SAMR in action:

Manage Change for Successful Transformation

Managing technological shifts in any industry can be challenging, but having a change management plan in place to support the adoption process can make a critical difference. Organizational change is almost always met with resistance; overcoming these obstacles is essential to realizing the full potential of a digital transformation. Following Dr. Kotter’s “Change Management” methodology, we believe a comprehensive approach to driving martech adoption involves creating a climate for change, engaging and enabling the whole organization, and setting the stage for sustainable implementation. 

MarTech Investment Change Management

Though widely known as a methodology for managing major organizational turnarounds, Kotter’s change management methodology is highly effective when paired with SAMR to support martech adoption. Without a change management plan, martech adoption risks becoming an unsuccessful initiative in your organization. Creating the right climate for change is the first step in a successful martech rollout. Because multiple departments are typically impacted by technological change, it’s critical to communicate the value martech will bring to the company to secure ‘buy-in’ as early as possible. When stakeholders start to see the benefits martech will bring to the organization, you can leverage their engagement to facilitate implementation and embed long-term changes into the corporate culture. 

When used in conjunction with SAMR, Kotter’s model takes martech adoption from a “roll out and use” initiative to an opportunity  to redefine marketing practices. Teams can achieve tasks that were previously inconceivable and generate substantial returns on their technology investments. You probably wouldn’t drive a Ferrari to go to the corner store – why purchase a sophisticated martech solution and use it to simply substitute and augment your current marketing activities? Investing in martech means investing in change – with a proactive plan, your business can secure a competitive edge and realize actual digital transformation. Using proven methodologies to frame and drive martech adoption ensures that your team feels comfortable and familiar with new tools before they take risks to redefine their work. 

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