24th Jul 2015

5 Laws of Marketing Technology you Need to Understand

Marketing technology has become an intrinsic part of any marketing company as most people turn to their digital devices at some point during 93% of their purchases – even major purchases such as homes and cars. The internet is becoming the Mecca of retail habits, with people flocking to it research or buy even the simplest of pleasures, but marketing technology is very different from online marketing and it’s getting more important to understand both.

How has the explosion of digital technology changed marketing?

Today’s connected consumers are using smartphones, iPads, laptops – and even glasses and watches – to access content. As a result, marketing departments need to provide compelling campaigns across these different devices and become proficient in using technology. Marketers need to work closely with developers, IT departments and digital technologists. They need to understand the processes behind developing websites, handling data and running social media campaigns or the marketing they produce will not reach their audience. Marketers need to develop the skills to enable them to work hand in hand with technologists whilst retaining their creativity, flair and intuition, but how can you fuse the two?

Here are five rules of marketing technology you need to know to be able to integrate marketing technology into your marketing company.

Brooks’ Law

A technology law that has been the bane of managers for decades, Brooks’ Law says: adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. It is humorously summed up in the remark, “Nine women can’t make a baby in one month.”

Fred Brooks, who coined this law in his classic book on software engineering and management, The Mythical Man-Month, claims that there are two reasons why this is generally true:

It takes some time for new people added to a project to become productive (“ramp up time“), which sucks time away from the existing team members to educate them.

Communication overhead increases as the number of people increases.

Experiences such as Brooks’ eventually inspired a new approach to building software, agile development methodologies, which generally move away from big, fixed specifications to more flexible, “iterative” implementations, with smaller teams and shorter, fixed time windows. Agile teams are typically only 5-9 people, to simplify team communication and collaboration.

Why should you care? Marketing is increasingly hip-deep — sometimes neck-deep — in development of its own software, especially web and mobile apps, as well as the technical configuration and customization of off-the-shelf platforms, such as marketing automation. In other words, marketing now involves engineering management, so it’s worth knowing its hard-learned dynamics rather than having to painfully “rediscover” them.

Bonus tip. For hiring (or contracting) technical talent, keep in mind one of Brooks’ other enduring insights: “good” programmers are generally 5 to 10 times as productive as mediocre ones.

Wirth’s Law

Wirth’s Law is a famous quote from Niklaus Wirth, a Swiss computer scientist. In 1995, he proposed an adage that: “Software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware is getting faster.”

The law implies that while hardware progress has been rapid over the years, the same cannot be said of software. It also states that software complexity increases at a higher rate than hardware complexity. Slow software growth can be attributed to software creeping feature-itis. Also, extra features added in the software may exceed its main function and coding, and the amount of irrelevant code is high in the developed code.

The problem is not entirely caused by bloated software applications. An advanced operating system run on less powerful hardware will run slowly. For example, running Windows 7 on a computer meant for running Windows XP will slow the system. Similarly, the user invoking a large number of applications simultaneously will experience slow software performance. Similarly, the presence of adware, spyware, malware, viruses and Trojans can slow a system down. Therefore, the statement that software speed is slowed down due to bloated software size is not entirely accurate.

Why should you care? Note well: expectations from technology keep rising! Rather than cut costs as a given level of hardware performance becomes cheaper over time, many businesses take the additional performance at the same cost and apply it to even greater capabilities — or find a different technology in which to leverage that investment. Cloud computing has greatly reduced the friction of this constant “trading up” phenomenon. In economics this is known as the Jevons Paradox.

Still, keep in mind this adage of product/project management: feature requests are always infinite, while resources are always finite. Choose wisely.

Segal’s Law

Segal’s law is an adage that states: 

“A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.” 

It refers to the potential pitfalls of having too much conflicting information when making a decision. 

If you’ve ever spent time trying to get two different web analytics packages to report the same numbers, you already have a deep appreciation for this law. Because there is so much overlap of data from different systems in the marketing domain, it can be an unending quagmire to try to get all the numbers to line up perfectly.

Why should you care? Marketing is awash in measurement and metrics — which, for the most part, is a good thing. But it’s important to focus on meaningful signals and trends revealed by these numbers, rather than becoming obsessed with margin-of-error accuracy. Tom Davenport, arguably the world’s leading advocate for business analytics, has said: “Analytics shouldn’t be about the math. It should be used to tell stories, frame decisions, and find the courage to stand firm on consenting opinions from the status quo.”

Conway’s Law

Many years ago, Melvin Conway had observed that how organizations were structured would have a strong impact on any systems they created. In his “How Do Committees Invent” he wrote:

“Any organization that designs a system (defined more broadly here than just information systems) will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.”

At the time, the Harvard Business Review rejected his original paper based on the fact that he hadn’t proved his hypothesis. Nonetheless, this observation has become known as Conway’s Law

Why should you care? You shouldn’t be too worried about competitors reverse engineering what you do. You should, however, be very concerned about the structure and culture of your team — is your marketing department designed to inspire and enable the kinds of innovative products, marketing campaigns, and customer experiences that will amaze and delight your market? Not to sound like a broken record, but this is another good reason for adopting more agile management practices.

Moore’s Law

Moore’s Law is a computing term which originated around 1970; the simplified version of this law states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two years.  A quick check among technicians in different computer companies shows that the term is not very popular but the rule is still accepted.

Due to the rapid rate that technology has grown in the past few years, most computer technicians you speak with – whether they have heard of Moore’s Law or not will tell you that CPU speeds double each year. Though Moore’s Law had said every two years, this rapid increase in technological production has lessened the period in the minds of technicians and users alike.

Why should you care? This law drives what’s possible with your products and your marketing — the key lesson is that the frontier of what’s possible keeps moving fast. Peter Diamandis, head of the X Prize Foundation, recently said in a VentureBeat interview, “If you’re a CEO of a company and you’re not aware of where these technologies are going, they can literally put you out of business in a snap of a finger. Or you can use them to leapfrog your competition.”

It’s a savvy marketing company that mixes the design department with a data department as it is already a symbiotic relationship that will at some point turn into one. If you keep ahead of the curve, you’ll be able tolead your marketing company to the front of your industry.