Australian-owned marketing technology company Squiz has recently expanded in New Zealand, adding an Auckland office to its pre-existing Wellington base. Upon the move, we talked to New Zealand managing director Patrick Fitzgerald about the changing landscape of marketing technology, how the lines are blurring between marketing and IT departments and what the technology developers are doing to help.
Unlike a number of marketing technology companies that are quickly swallowed up by bigger players, Squiz has a global network spanning across Australia, North America, UK, Europe as well as a 15-year history in New Zealand, something Fitzgerald credits to it staying close to the clients and really understanding what it is that they are trying to do.
“We haven’t disappeared in a puff of smoke… We genuinely focus on the client’s success, from helping think through that and then putting in place the platforms and the services and helping them develop the capabilities to achieve their goals.”
In order to understand the industry in which its clients are working, Squiz has recently released 'The State of ANZ Marketing Technology 2016', a report examining the MarTech (marketing technology) landscape across Australia and New Zealand and how marketing and IT professionals are navigating it.
Fitzgerald says within large organisations, the marketing software has historically been the domain of the chief information officer and the IT department, however that has changed over the last few years.
“Surprisingly for the majority of IT people, their most important digital goal for 2016 was actually around improving the 360-degree customer experience and that’s not something that you would expect IT people to be particularly concerned about because you expect that more to be in the domain of marketers, whereas the majority of marketers showed integration of all platforms and channels their major focus.”
He says Squiz is interpreting that as there being a "greater alignment between IT and marketing in terms of their objectives and critical intent". However, both still hold a different outlooks on how those will be achieved.
The report also shows 60 percent of respondents identified marketing managers are the key stakeholders when purchasing software, suggesting the future role of the marketing managers reflects that of the chief information officer.
While “integration” may be a major focus, the report found it to be a word that strikes fear in the heart of many marketing and IT professionals.
Fitzgerald says this is because it is notoriously difficult, partly because the marketing technology landscape has evolved so quickly and there are so many players in the industry. Marketers have a tendency to acquire the “latest and greatest” technologies, with little thought of how it will sync up to existing systems.
As a result, he says “integration is still a big challenge for most organisations, in fact over 80 percent of respondents are falling into the ‘we’re not even half way there yet’ category.”
He says those findings are interesting to Squiz, and marketing technology companies, as they will help in fulfilling the role it has to help clients integrate the systems.
“We help our clients integrate their systems in order to improve customer service delivery and improve the information that the business has to deal with their customers.”
In order to do this, Fitzgerald says Squiz has both “good technical smarts” to provide the right technology, and a “creative side” with people who can design it to be pleasing to use as well as easy and effective.
However, within this balance, there is a tension between making technology that is innovative and pleasing but still “maintainable and safe” in order to meet the business goals.
“We want our clients to be ambitious and to strive to really get their goals and out perform their competition and that calls for innovation and risk taking, on the other hand, no client wants to be so leading edge that the systems they have in place are flaky.”
Fitzgerald says Squiz works on a project-by-project basis, understanding that each client has a different appetite for pushing the boundaries versus keeping safe and supported. To ensure all needs are met, product development is driven by the client.
When beginning each project, Squiz and the client establish a “multi-year vision”, establishing what the client wants to become and how it will transform to provide better services more efficiently. Fitzgerald says that while the vision is several years out, small steps are taken to get there, with quick wins along the way to build confidence with the programme.
As well as staying close with clients, he says Squiz stays close with industry analysts.
"We are rated by industry analysts and that process involves quite a lot of benchmarking to make sure that the technology that we develop and our ability to execute is worldclass."