The Chief Marketing Technologist title is a relatively new addition to most organizations. In this episode we discuss this role and how marketing is evolving in regulated industries. 

We are joined by guest co-host, Esteban Kolsky, Principal and Founder of ThinkJar, an advisory and research think-tank focused on Customer Strategies. He has over 25 years of experience in customer service and CRM consulting, research, and advisory services. Esteban and Michael Krigsman will talk with Lauren Vargas is the Chief Marketing Technologist at Aetna.

Marketing Technology in Regulated Industries, Esteban Kolsky and Lauren Vargas

Michael Krigsman:

(00:05) Welcome to episode number 153 of CXOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman and today we’re talking about marketing technology and health care and regulated industries. I am here with Lauren Vargas, who is Chief Marketing Technologist at Aetna, and a special CXOTalk we have industry analyst Esteban Kolsky, who is going to be my guest co-host for today, and gentlemen and ladies how are you?

Lauren Vargas:

(00:44) Good thank you.

Esteban Kolsky:

(00:45) I’m actually in this small special box here I feel really good right now thank you.

Michael Krigsman:

(00:51) I am delighted you feel good. Lauren let’s start with you, briefly tell us about what you do at Aetna.

Lauren Vargas:

(01:00) Sure so I am the head of marketing technology and operations. I can only claim that role for two month

Michael Krigsman:

(01:30) Fantastic, and Esteban tell us about your areas of coverage as an industry analyst.

Esteban Kolsky:

(01:36) So I left high school last year finally with a GED.

Michael Krigsman:

(01:41) Okay, this is going exactly where we want it! Okay, so fast forwarding a little bit you’re now today an industry analyst and what do you cover?

Esteban Kolsky:

(01:52) I cover customer strategy, but there is no way I can compete with Lauren and I’m just going to say that I’ve been an analyst for you know 15 – 20 years. I’ve been in technology for 30 or so years and it gets better every single year.

Michael Krigsman:

(02:09) All right, I’m glad it gets better. So Esteban this is going to be your show as the guest co-host, so I’m going to turn it over to you and why don’t you dive into questions for Lauren.

Esteban Kolsky:

(02:24) Okay, first let me celebrate my excitement okay, so hi Lauren how you doing?

Lauren Vargas:

(02:31) Hi I’m well thank you and you.

Esteban Kolsky:

(02:33) So here’s the funny things, so when Michael asked me what I wanted to talk in a CXOTalk, the first thing I thought about was marketing tech. mostly because I have no idea what it means but it sounds really cool. So can you help us out a little bit by telling us what marketing tech is, but don’t go like academic, like what do you do? What’s the point of all this marketing technology explosion in the last few years.

Lauren Vargas:

(02:59) Well let me comment on the fact that I think there are several different definitions of marketing technology and how people are going about it. the way that I’m looking at marketing technology is looking at all of the very specific technologies that marketing is responsible for on were they business owners, or were they are business users; very heavy in authority, influence, and impact.

(03:28) And how do you take that set of technologies and not just become responsible for the function of the technology but also know and be aware and drive the customer experience and understanding all of the different interactions, all of the data inputs and outputs and when you’re in a regulated industry like mine you can’t just think about the technology alone. You have to think about how the data’s being used, why the data is being used and it’s a constant evolution; the guidelines are constantly changing.

Esteban Kolsky:

(04:06) Sorry, but if you were to step away from regulated industries, what are we talking about? Data, how to use data better? I mean marketers always see as data for better or for worse and worse is the key word here not better. But they always though they knew how to use data and what data is what’s the difference in the last few years?

Lauren Vargas:

(04:27) Well I think you have a different set of people I think that are taking on the marketing technology role, and I think that it is or I think that those people, either they’ve had the responsibility or they’re coming into this job like I am, they’re looking at the marketing technology a bit differently. The fact that it is not a megaphone, it is not something where you just pop data in and you think you understand the customers without really engaging with them or being in tier community and their environments and the entire experience only happens in your sector.

(05:07)  I think having people like myself who are coming in from a community role, are thinking and working with legal compliance, architecture, IT, you know, information security in order to think about how do we craft the marketing technology experience, not just within our roles but within the lifecycle of the customer.

(05:28) So you’re thinking about everything from a holistic customer view as CRM, to marketing automation content management systems, looking at preference engines and you’re trying to combine them and trying to fit you know where all the puzzle pieces fit that are specific for your experience.

(05:46) I don’t think you can take the marketing technology sack of any other company and just apply it to yours. You really have to understand and be aware of how the people are associating with you or not associating with you and getting in there and engaging and being part of their experience versus your own.

Michael Krigsman:

(06:06) So marketing technology then needs to be wedded very closely, tied to the context of the specific organization and what’s important to the customers and the lifecycle of that set of particular customers.

Lauren Vargas:

(06:24) I’m realizing that it’s not linear right; I mean you know alongside everybody going into marketing technology, you’ve got everybody talking again about customer journeys and experiences and you know we’re thinking about it as it’s going across only as it’s interacting with our own technologies or our own data. And we really have to think about how the experience is happening, you know how they’re interacting with us is in tandem with other experiences that they have within their lifecycle.

(07:02) So you are in the same area as going to the food market and finding your favorite recipes, you know that type of you know interaction. Or the interaction from a health care perspective, like that person may have with the mother or father, ageing parent that type of thing. So we have to be aware of the lifecycle, their lifecycle is how we start to organize our experiences with them.

Esteban Kolsky:

(07:36) So let me create a tweet. This is serious. I’m going to use six areas okay, you can allocate 100% of your time into these six areas. These areas I’ll give you a few seconds to think and then I’ll ask you. Areas like people, processes, technology, metrics, governance, and customers. Okay, so you have 100%, how do you allocate your time, how much time do you allocate to your people and the culture of the company? I’ll give you time to think, you can’t think on the spot, come on.

Lauren Vargas:

(08:17) So I think you have to have to have the people and like the governance – the culture and the governance happening at the same time.

Esteban Kolsky:

(08:23) Good! So let’s make it five; people and governance, metrics, technology, processes, and customers right. So people and governance, how much time do you allocate to people and governance?

Lauren Vargas:

(08:32) At least 50%.

Esteban Kolsky:

(08:34) Five-zero?

Lauren Vargas:

(08:37) Five-zero. I think it comes first.

Esteban Kolsky:

(08:40) And is compliance part of that.

Lauren Vargas:

(08:41) Yeah, and this and this is in the beginning to because I think depending upon your industry it might be seasonal. So I think in the beginning, especially if you haven’t done this before or you think you already have a marketing stack but you have no governance or on-boarding around it, and then you have to start from scratch – or not necessarily starting from scratch but you are kind of working backwards.

(09:03) So I think governance and people have to go hand-in-hand.

Esteban Kolsky:

(09:08) Was this for the four and a half years you spent in community in your company, but you basically with the compliance part?

Lauren Vargas:

(09:14) Well you know what’s interesting is that the relations that I built in my previous position are going to make this position that I hold now much easier, because I spent a good year on governance before anything was even launched at Aetna. And then I spent the next three years evolving that and bringing them into the process and thinking about it on a quarterly basis.  And I think I can take that and speed up that process with my job that I hold now.

Esteban Kolsky:

(09:49) So you have 50% and four categories left, so how much time do you spend on technology?

Á

(09:55) I think technology comes last.

Esteban Kolsky:

(09:59) So 5%, 1%?

Esteban Kolsky:

10:01) No, no, no, it’s 10%, 15% maybe.

Esteban Kolsky:

(10:04) Okay, I mean you’re in marketing technology, so at some point technology is going to be there right?

Lauren Vargas:

(10:09) Yeah but I think it comes last in the decision process.

Esteban Kolsky:

(10:11) Okay, processes and there’s no reason why it has the middle finger, just happens to be there.

Lauren Vargas:

(10:19) Well I actually put processes and the governance bucket, because at least in my role I’m building the processes as I’m going through the governance  with legal compliant.

Esteban Kolsky:

(10:29) How about the influence you have in other processes within the company?

Lauren Vargas:

(10:34) I think that goes hand-in-hand with the - because we’re consolidating contracts, we’re leveraging contracts or thing what already exists or the data pipeline are going into those areas that are  maybe held by sales or service primarily. So I think as we go through the governance it’s a matter of spending time there making those decisions about the processes at that point in time and how we think they’re going to evolve and establish in accordance with cadence. So I’m really paranoid at packing some of these things, like you are building and designing and flying the plane all at once.

Esteban Kolsky:

(11:10) So I’m going to leave metrics for a second, but how about customers, how much time are you spending either directly with customers or customers facing stakeholders or with some way to get into the customers mind.

Lauren Vargas:

(11:25) So from a marketing technology point of view I don’t think that you should be the ones on the frontlines, but I think you should be aware of what is happening on the frontlines and how you’re connected in and how you’re architecting or being part of the architecture process about all of those technologies that are created.

Esteban Kolsky:

(11:44) How are you doing that?

Lauren Vargas:

(11:45) So I’m interfacing with all of the different groups that have that community management responsibility and asking questions about the data and hoping to build my team so that we have user experience mangers that are interfacing with communication, community and social and local or other hyperlocal you know customer facing situations.

(12:13) I think we have to have not just the data but the actual relationship with those groups so we can get firsthand knowledge. But is that part of our responsibility, that customer engagement? No do we put the technology in place to make some of that happen? Yes.

Michael Krigsman:

(12:31) I just want to jump in, so Lauren then can you elaborate on the connection between marketing technology and what’s actually going on with the customer, because obviously they need to work together those two things.

Lauren Vargas:

(12:50) Well I definitely think so. I think that at least the way that I’m  looking at how to architect a marketing technology team is you have to have data specialists that don’t overlap with your data scientists, but they need to understand of exactly all the data inputs and outputs and what that means how things are being used, how things are being communicated with. They in tandem work with the user experience managers who have that direct connection with a number of communications and your customer facing relationships community engagement. And then you have another set of folks who are the marketing technologists who are selecting.

(13:30) They might be specialists in various categories, one to three categories and they can’t make a decision, they can’t strategically select or expand that particular category of technology or categories without the input of the user experienced managers and the data specialists.

(13:50) Or if you don’t have your team architected that way, think about who is responsible for those relationships today and have them start to build those relationships a the governance, at the process level and that is a direct input into what are your KPIs, what are your metrics. How do you focus on the success rate is going to be and the success it’s not linear right and you’re looking at all various different experiences.

(14:20) So I think you have multiple success factors, multiple ways to get that success but you have to start to pinpoint those areas. So once you have that governance in place, you can inform what your KPIs going to be, what your diagnostic is going to be, and then you choose the technology. And then the technology evolves as you learn more about the customer, how it comes up with the data specialists, they’re interface with user managers etc. so it’s a cyclical relationship

Esteban Kolsky:

(14:49) This is why I left metrics for last right because I mean KPI correlation, I mean we talk about this many times. But I want to expand it from metric to metrics and politics, but essentially they just go together because the justification the metrics and showing success and all of that things they do bring certain levels of politics especially in the regulatory industry and you know the bigger organizations and not just the regulated industry and I’m not picking on your company specifically it’s the same.

(15:21) Every large organization that I know when somebody makes a noise and somebody succeeds there is like 200 people behind trying to oppose politically speaking the success. If you want to talk, first the question is how much of your time do you spend on metrics and administration KPIs and all those things. And second, how much actually are those metrics actually are correlated to trying to avoid or trying to justifying politically your position and if you don’t want to answer I totally understand. I don’t want to get you into hot water but…

Lauren Vargas:

(15:51)  No I think you know I have been in a customer facing position for 15 years, and ..

Esteban Kolsky:

(16:02) People don’t even know you’ve been doing this for 15 years.

Lauren Vargas:

(16:05) I have. I’m older than I look maybe. You know I kind of cut my teeth in the DofD, in the Department of Defense and you know that’s definitely lot of politics right there and it’s not a cakewalk, and I learned a lot of tough lessons in my 20s in how to navigate politics and how to satisfy for what they want versus to what they need, and what they’re going to get. You know managing those expectations and I think that’s part of the governance process and how you’re looking at metrics. I think there is ultimately going to be that high level view, that executive view that you’re going to have to prepare.

(16:53) But the way I think that the technology has evolved especially how the job role and especially  how my career has developed, I’m looking at ways to tap into multiple different windows of data to satisfy the real-time need of all the marketers that I serve. So that way I’m more nimble or able to address maybe the political concerns or the different views that need to be had from other executives or things that’s influencing our industry.

Esteban Kolsky:

(17:39) That’s good eggshell walking by the way.

Michael Krigsman:

(17:42) Yeah you’re doing well walking on the eggshells there Lauren. We have a question from Twitter from Arsalan Khan, who asks are you able to connect KPIs to technology performance metrics – SLAs. That’s an interesting question because we were talking earlier that in marketing technology, the marketing piece itself is kind of at the end, and he’s wondering how do you link it back into metrics and processes from a business standpoint.

Lauren Vargas:

(18:20) I think that’s work in progress, at least it’s been work in progress for me for 15 years. I don’t think there’s any perfect way to do it, and I think it’s all about how clean you make that breadcrumb trail. I think it’s about the expectations that you’ve set to KPIs. I don’t think you should bite off more than you should chew.

(18:43) The KPIs that I’ve been looking at over the years are directly coming from what the business needs and I’m tying that to the performance that I expect with the technology that I choose and putting together various maturity models and funding models isn’t perfect. No you know, no it’s not, but you know I’m setting also expectations and trying to evolve as the technology evolves as the expectations as what I or different teams can deliver.

(19:16) I think that’s difficult because it’s never the same where you work, and you know there’s no silver bullet and I don’t think anybody has the right answer. Never mind I forgot we’re sitting with.

Michael Krigsman:

(19:37) That’s right, we’re with Esteban and so don’t say that nobody has the answer, okay Esteban please tell us.

Esteban Kolsky:

(19:45) So let’s change I mean those were interesting exercises I think because I never thought that 50% of your time is spent on culture and governance. I mean I understand compliance regulated industry right, but that’s a significant change of time and let’s take it one step further I mean what else do you think, you’ve been in different positions. You mentioned governance and regulated and I know you worked elsewhere and I won’t mention but it’s up to you to say that. But you know, how different is regulated industry and compliance from your perspective.

(20:23) Let me frame that better. We have this perspective that regulated industries are a big dinosaur that don’t move, don’t do anything. It’s a pain to get anything accomplished done, change or anything like that. I don’t particularly share that view. I have seen some amazing innovations from regulated organizations, but I want to get your perspective on that as far as marketing is concerned.

Lauren Vargas:

(20:48) You know I think it’s kind of the opposite and I’ve gotten this you know I’ve had different types but kind of the same question asked of me several times. I think it’s easier to work with regulated industries because you know what you seeing box is. So at least when you’re developing your first round of governance, and what I’ve learned over the years is that you know what your specs are, you know what your requirements are. You know what you can’t exceed beyond, and when you have that in place you can start to push at the edges after you have developed some of those relationships with those key groups and then you can get things to move quicker.

(21:37) I think that what I’ve done in my previous position here is set that stage so it can go quicker in the marketing technology front. Are there still you know barriers? Yes, but what I’ve done is that at every single job that I have taken over the years, I sit down with all of the stakeholders. All of those people that have information – not just stakeholders but informational interviews and I ask them what they expect, what are their needs, what are their challenges, what are their desires. What do I need to know, what are the rules of the road, and they give them to me so I know exactly going in I can start to frame, okay here’s phase one governance, here’s phase two, here’s phase three. This is how it’s going to evolve. So it sounds like a big chunk, but like I said that’s at the beginning as you’re building things.

(22:31) I don’t think that you’re ever going to spend, at least in a regulated industry less than 30% of your time on governance because it constantly changes, and you have to be aware of all the needs and the revolving people or personalities that might influence that. In politics and governance right.

Esteban Kolsky:

(22:53) I don’t know what you’re talking about; I don’t know who said that.

Lauren Vargas:

(22:55) So you know I think at the end of the day, I wish I could spend a third of my time on governance, a third of my time on data and metrics, and a third of time on technology selection, is that how it actually works? No, there is seasonality, there are peaks and valleys. You know, when I can spend more time on the technology piece, like at the end of the year or towards the end of the year as you’re planning for the next that’s when your technology time rises to peak levels.

(23:26) When you are looking at data and metrics at least for us you know it revolves around the buying cycle for health care. Or you know there were different seasonality’s in my government positions. So you just have to be aware of that and be able to allow for your governance and for your processes and your technologies and to adapt accordingly.

Esteban Kolsky:

(23:52) So the technology makes governance easy? Okay, let me ask you a simpler question does the technology meet governance easy? Or put it another way, how much easier is governance because of technology?

Michael Krigsman:

(24:10) Wait a second, you’re asking does technology make governance easy?

Esteban Kolsky:

(24:18) Yeah, that’s pretty much. Let me rephrase that does technology meet governance easy.

Michael Krigsman:

(24:25) It’s an interesting question and it’s not something we think about very often as well.

Esteban Kolsky:

(24:30) It is part of your job right both governance and are you finding ways to make it easy better.

Lauren Vargas:

(24:34) Well at least now I don’t think it’s easy. I might answer that differently in a couple of months, you know like I said I’m getting my feet wet in this particular…

Esteban Kolsky:

(24:48) But what have you done?

Lauren Vargas:

(24:49) Like what have I done with my time?

Esteban Kolsky:

(24:53) What’s wrong with you!

Lauren Vargas:

(24:56) I think once you have the processes in place, yes the technology does you know start to bridge you know some of these processes that we have had to do manually in the past. But I think the sticky part is that there’s more data, that there is different ways that we can connect with the customer, different ways that you can shout at the customer or the prospect, and there is especially in our industry there’s a lot you have to think about with all that data flying around and who has access, and the technology themselves, how do they store it and that type of thing.

(25:42) So in some respects I don’t think it’s made governance easier. I think it’s made it, I don’t know how to difficult, but I think it’s more lengthy – not even wore lengthily. I just think I have to bring more people into the mix, and get more people involved to understand exactly…

Esteban Kolsky:

(26:02) Wait, so marketing technology, she is talking about bringing in more people than talking about technology.

Lauren Vargas:

(26:07) No more relationships within the company, not more people into my company to do things.

Esteban Kolsky:

(26:14) So the relationships make both (a) governance and (b) technology adoption easier?

Lauren Vargas:

(26:20) Oh yes without a doubt.

Esteban Kolsky:

(26:23) So all you have to do is build good relationships?

Lauren Vargas:

(26:27) You know what, I think does, I think it makes a very big dynamic.

Esteban Kolsky:

(26:31) I am so screwed up now!

Michael Krigsman:

(26:33) So at the end of the day, the success of any technology related program, whether it’s marketing technology or any other type of technology is going to come down to the relationships with people. I think it’s the relationships with the people in terms of identifying what actually needs to be done and accomplished, and then relationships with the people in terms of the change management. Maybe you can talk a little bit about the changing role of marketing and what that does to the organization, and the type of change management that might need to take place regarding marketing technology.

Lauren Vargas:

(27:20) I think I address that at the beginning, you know I started my career in public relations and I never thought that in 1 million years that I would have this position today. I met Paul Greenberg when I had just turned 21 and I was in PR recruitment, and I was this PR person who had a love for numbers, for data and I wanted to learn everything I could possibly you know, get my hands on at that time around CRM.

(27:56) I remember you know just being on the periphery of those discussions like CRM and technology that was coming in was the magic bullet and we were all going to have these great relationships and connected data and all this kind of stuff. And I don’t think we have ever quite mastered that. But I think that we have made a lot of strive and I think from my career, and how it evolved from PR to not screaming through a megaphone, so and then all of a sudden the companies hadn’t changed and that and they realised they no longer had that ‘controlled’ relationship and you have to start building ‘relationships’ with customers - what did relationship mean.

(28:45) And that’s how I got into the position that I did around community management DofD, and then working for gradient and social media monitoring and understanding how the conversations were changing their out of social community level, which led me to the position at Aetna, where I was brought in specifically to do governance because the company recognized that these conversations were occurring and they needed to make changes in order to respond and start engaging.

(29:16) And so now you have so many options of marketing technologies, the vendor’s are what, they’re like 1800 and growing, depending upon how you categorize the marketing landscape. So I think it’s changed in that not only are we at recognizing you know relationships, but we’re architecting the marketing, communications, and the technology around making sure that those relationships and the feedback of those relationships are quantified and qualified in a way that we can start making some change within companies.

Esteban Kolsky:

(29:53) Can I change your words a little bit, you were talking about relationships which is a very antiquated term but earlier you are talking about engagement which I like a little bit more. You know there are some groundbreaking analysts writing white papers and content about engagement over the last few years, but you know seriously we tend to make the mistake replacing the word engagement, for the word experience or for the word relationship. So let’s talk about engagement, because you mentioned a lot of things that actually hinder on internal engagement with other stakeholder’s engagement and employees, as well as engagement with customers. How would you see engagement being crucial or just okay in your current role?

Lauren Vargas:

(30:45) In my current position?

Esteban Kolsky:

(30:48) Well we’re going to talk about communication for the last three minutes and were done with this, so I mean you don’t have to related to communities related, but I mean for marketing technology is engagement one of the ultimate outcomes? Is that what you are seeking in this engagement or what is the engagement that you are seeking?

Lauren Vargas:

(31:06) Seeking engagement at where it is appropriate at the place, in that prospect or members…

Esteban Kolsky:

 (31:17) No I didn’t ask for a politically correct answer.

Lauren Vargas:

(31:21) No, that is at the end of the day you know what I would like to see happen and let me just clarify that. I look at engagement – this is a kind of tricky thing because I think in a lot of instances and a lot of companies, or like the industry itself has kind of jumped over engagement. I think engagement was very high a couple of years ago, and everybody wanted to create it and everybody wanted to have these conversations.

(31:56) Now to get into some of these environments it’s very pay to play, so you go back to the megaphone approached just to get them to engage in a valuable way with you. What does value mean? What does engagement mean? I think we are constantly breaking it apart and putting it back together again and adapting as necessary. And I think we have kind of gone backwards with the pay to play.

Esteban Kolsky:

(32:20) That’s a great point, and I agree with that quite a bit, so let me give you a little bit of a different framework. I mean in this groundbreaking research that’s done by one of the analysts that is leading the field of experience on engagement, he said that engagement is an outcome of a job well done, and value is the metric for engagement and value cannot be measured specifically as more than a one-time basis. I mean would you agree with those two pieces, and you think that engagement is the outcome of doing your job right and you create good technology that the marketers want to work with you and utilize, and do you think the outcome of that is engagement, both internal for employees as well as external.

Lauren Vargas:

(33:04) Definitely, yes definitely. You have to engage multiple times. You know, a onetime interaction does not constitute engagement.

Esteban Kolsky:

(33:18) Unless you are me and you are trying to get married to the person after the first date I agree with you or sometimes a bit longer than that.

Michael Krigsman:

(33:21) So wait a second, how does engagement – I was going to say how does engagement differ from relationship from a marketing technology standpoint. Because when you talk about a relationship is all about the interaction over a period of time.

Lauren Vargas:

(33:43) You’re building your set of engagement, your engagement opportunities with that person.

Esteban Kolsky:

(33:48) Do I need to show you guys the slide or are you guys okay in talking about this.

Michael Krigsman:

(33:51) I think we can talk about this.

Esteban Kolsky:

(33:53) Okay, I’m just making sure you are okay with my slides that’s all.

Michael Krigsman:

(33:56) Of course we would love your slides, we love PowerPoint and you know for are there is no such thing is death by PowerPoint either, but in the interest of time what is the difference between relationship engagement in a practical sense.

Lauren Vargas:

(34:19) I think it’s a set of interactions and then that value or that number of interactions that you deem is having some type of going through the steps of or interacting with your company on a regular basis would be a relationship. It has to be a two-way conversation. It can’t be the megaphone approach, but I think you know that goes back to connecting all of your data and then having the right set of KPI’s or thinking completely differently about the KPI’s that we select, and the diagnostics that we look at in order to clarify success. And I think that that is speaking from and how I have looked at metrics over the years, and how its influenced the job that I’ve done.

Esteban Kolsky:

(35:25) Okay, so let’s talk about the second part of engagement, about value being the metrics basically and the way we measure engagement. I don’t think that engagement is a metric and I don’t think you can say I am 100% engaged or unless you get engaged on the first date, but seriously, how do you create value. You know, you have to create value, value changes every interaction, and value is perceived differently by each stakeholder. So how do you actually focus on value or metric or something to that effect so you can financially do something with that?

Lauren Vargas:

(36: 02) I think it’s understanding you know going back to the experiences of what you’re saying what is exactly of importance to them, and then how it ties with your business goals, and does it ties with your business goals. Are they working to find common interaction points?

Esteban Kolsky:

(36:22) What do you mean by common interaction points?

Lauren Vargas:

(36:26) Well where there is a need or a want to have an interaction with your company, so what you want and what the prospect or the customer wants.

Esteban Kolsky:

(36:41) Yes, but then that defines the value, but what you need as a company is the value and what the customer wants is value they see and to think of a better word it’s a win-win situation that’s when you generate value.

Lauren Vargas:

(36:54) Correct.

Esteban Kolsky:

(36:55) And over the long run, and by the way here is this slide in case you need to refer to it, but over the long run engagement is the outcome right?

Lauren Vargas:

(37:06) Yeah.

Esteban Kolsky:

(37:06) Okay. I am so glad you agree with me and I won’t have to belittle you anymore on that. Let’s take the last topic and we have about you know five or so minutes and you mentioned community a couple of times when you come from a community background. You know me, so where I am very big in community, I think that communities say that girls don’t rule the world I’m sorry but community rules the world going forward, but we can make this happen, but you have to talk to Beyoncé about that . But I mean let’s talk about community

Michael Krigsman:

(37:36) I’m not going to touch that comment by the way.

Esteban Kolsky:

(37:40) Hey, communities can be made out of girls, I have no problem with that. I’m just saying communities are much more powerful than a single person you know.

Lauren Vargas:

(37:46) Definitely.

Esteban Kolsky:

(37:47) So I mean how do you see your role, you came from the communities world, how do you see your role that’s fostering the continuation of communities within the organization?

Lauren Vargas:

(37:50) Within the organization or how the organization…

Esteban Kolsky:

(38:10) Which ever, you can define my question however best it suits you.

Lauren Vargas:

(38:13) So we have to look at where our prospect or customers are. Not necessarily where they fit in this linear interaction of customer journey that we perceive. I look at what we have built on our website or social communities or other and just that the digital ecosystem overall as existing of these little hives or clusters of people having experiences, and I think you have to you kind of build your interaction point, and build your opportunities around where they are already clustered, and that goes back to pinpointing the experiences and their life-cycle and understanding the technologies that are going to support that relationship. Whether it is getting more people to engage, it’s procreating that value that you speak of, that consent of engagement, but I think we have to find people of where they are at and find the experiences of where they are already – those neighborhoods, those both online and off-line interactions that they are already having and start to build around that, so those communities already exist, we just have to like tap into that, but we have to be a trusted participant first.

Esteban Kolsky:

(39:42) My favorite phrase ever; trusted participant. When you look at technology for communities you have to like own and control communities…

Lauren Vargas:

(39:51) No.

Michael Krigsman:

(39:51) Tell us about trust, trust is such an important term and its overuse, so we have as Esteban says only a few minutes left, so tell us about trust here.

Lauren Vargas:

(40:00) We have to go into the communities and you have to show them that you understand of what they deem as value.

Esteban Kolsky:

(40:09) Could you define we a little bit more I’m sorry. Who has to go into the communities? The company or the people?

Lauren Vargas:

(40:17) The people and the company.

Esteban Kolsky:

(40:20) I’m not stupid I’m just trying to find an answer!

Lauren Vargas:

(40:26) Your marketeers, your front-line people, your sales, I mean all those people that interact with your customers I think all have to be on the same page or you know look like you are playing for the same team and think together about why you are entering this community that already exists, and stop trying to build up a community you know with this kind of build it and they will come approach. We’ve got to go where the communities already exist and build our interaction points and the technology that supports that around it.

Esteban Kolsky:

(41:02) You know, I don’t have anything left to say at this point, I’m done. My education of you is complete. You’re done, you’re ready to go in the world little one and that’s exactly the way that I see it. I mean, so let me finish this. We have a couple of minutes and I think there was a couple of questions left on Twitter, but I’ll let Michael handle that if that’s the case. Let’s summarize all this stuff, we’ve been talking for about 40 minutes now and we have covered so much ground on so many different things right.

(41:35) Let’s summarize, give me your top three takeaways of what it takes to be a good marketing tech executive.

Lauren Vargas:

(41:42) You have to have good relationships across the company, so that you can build a sound governance and process or processes. Everybody buys into – not just buys into; everybody has skin in the game.

Esteban Kolsky:

(41:55) Okay, that’s one, number two. What’s the second thing that you have to do to be a good marketing tech – let’s put in technology that’s about relationships how about technology? What do you need to do or know or say about technology?

Lauren Vargas:

(42:07) You need to select your technology based on what you have found in your user experience research in combination with what your data or primary secondary data tells you, and you have to be able to act on that. So don’t select the technology first, allow the data, the user experience to inform your technology selection.

Esteban Kolsky:

(42:39) So let me bring this in, and I mean no disrespect to this, but there are some slides going around like 1800 to 2000 plus vendors like divided into something like 26 different technology fields, and somebody says that the world of marketing tech . Is that really the world of marketing tech or is that the world that vendor’s want to get into marketing and they don’t know how to get in?

Lauren Vargas:

(43:00) That’s the world of vendors wanting to get into marketing tech – I know what you’re talking about the super graphic, and…

Michael Krigsman:

(43:07) Scott Brinker’s super graphic.

Lauren Vargas:

(43:09) Right, and I think that’s wonderful to kind of get an understanding of what is out there, but do you have to have all of that as part of your marketing staff? I don’t think so; it depends upon your organisation. It depends upon the needs of your community. It depends upon your user experience to inform what technology or what combination of technologies that you need.

Esteban Kolsky:

(43:29) And for the record Scott did a wonderful job and he never said everybody needs to have, So I want to put in a good words in his mouth. I’m just referring here because most people have seen it by now and it’s a very busy slide. So then you know you pick the technology based on the user experience and build better relationship with other people within the organization and understand the needs and understand the wants from the customer and put it all together and then – summary again; what’s the metric?

Lauren Vargas:

(43:54) It’s the value of the engagement that you set that’s going out in the community and establishing that value exchange.

Esteban Kolsky:

(44:07) So basically it’s the words I heard you say the most that matter for marketing tech are relationships, customer experience, and value?

Lauren Vargas:

(44:14) Yes.

Esteban Kolsky:

(44:16) Michael back to you.

Michael Krigsman:

(44:18) Relationships, customer success, and value

Esteban Kolsky:

(44:31) Customer experience but I let you screw it up the first time and not the second time.

Michael Krigsman:

(44:33) Say that one more time where I screwed up.

Esteban Kolsky:

(44:36) Relationship, customer experience, and value.

Michael Krigsman:

(44:36) Relationship, customer experience, and value, why not customer success, because if you have your engagement right you’re going to have your customer success and that’s actually the thing that matters isn’t it?

Lauren Vargas:

(44:49) Yes I think so. I don’t like success anyway.

Esteban Kolsky:

(44:53) I said experience anyway, I’m sure you have an agenda there that’s fine with me it’s clean and family oriented.

Michael Krigsman:

(45:03) This is a family orientated show. Okay, well we are out of time. This has been a very very interesting experience talking about marketing technology with Lauren Vargas who is the Achieve Marketing Technologist at Aetna and the my guest co-host for this episode, which has been Esteban Kolsky, who is one of the top industry analysts in this field. So Esteban and Lauren thank you so much for taking the time.

Lauren Vargas:

(45:39) Thank you.

Esteban Kolsky:

(45:39) Thank you Michael my pleasure always.

Michael Krigsman:

(45:41) Everybody, this is always a lot of fun. I want to thank Livestream for their support and we will see you next week, same time, same place, thank you bye bye.

 

Companies mentioned in today’s show:

Aetna:                          www.aetna.com

Livestream:                 www.livestream.com

Twitter:                       www.twitter.com