Earlier this month Osvaldo Bianchi, Managing Partner at Latamkey and leader in worldwide channel management published a LinkedIn post that suggested the need for a “digital marketing, sales, and partners orchestration platform” that would “allow the seamless flow of information, decisions, and activities, optimizing the customer experience and driving efficiency in the process.” He suggests that the blueprint for such a platform that would digitize Go-to-Market is incomplete and to achieve it will face significant and probably disruptive (my words), organizational, technological and privacy barriers. Though I agree that the organizational, cultural and privacy barriers are significant, I believe that the technology for such an orchestration platform is already here, though early in its development stages. I am working with a company that has a platform that is specifically tackling this issue, Quest 2 Excel. More on that later.
First though, let me share what I believe are some of the defining business attributes that would be needed for such a real-time platform.
Firstly, this Digital GTM orchestration platform must bebuilt on the idea of digitizing, optimizing, standardizing and scaling end-2-end ACTUAL operational processes through workflows and tap into all of the collective tribal knowledge that the firm has acquired related to building and executing business initiatives and programs across marketing, sales and the channel.
Secondly, in order to drive accountability and responsiveness it must support virtual collaboration across functions and between enterprises in a wide variety of ways. Some team members will be actively engaged across multiple tasks and workflows. Others will be involved only in a single task, sub-task or single workflow. Executives are likely to require view-only access to task, workflow and/orE2E process information.
Thirdly it must enable seamless connectivity to existing function-centric transactional applications and/or back-end corporate data sources in a wide variety of ways and means. This can be through direct file uploads, to launch workflows and/or populate specific fields critical for specific workflows, or using API’s with bi-directional capabilities to access specific data elements and trigger processes in Q2E and/or other applications.
Fourthly, it must be role and persona-based and be able to generate Actionable Intelligence based on actual operational processes. In this way, operational, executive, team or group leaders and individual contributors can make proactive decisions by tapping into what is actually going on in real-time not reflecting on back-end information that generally provides only historic perspectives.
With such a platform Sales, Marketing and Channel leaders can digitize as much or as little of the workflow as they so desire. Below is an example of a high-level end-2-end workflow for a Sell More Program. Each of the coloured process boxes in the top left Sell More Program Workflow can be deconstructed into a series of sub-processes (in this case a Direct Sales Onboarding Workflow and a Partner Onboarding Workflow). The boxes under each of these sub-processes can be in turn be deconstructed into another level of tasks and sub-tasks This deconstruction can go to as deep a level as the organization has the appetite for. It can also go as broad as the organization so desires and include multiple Sell More Programs. In the case of strategic initiatives or programs, they can be grouped into portfolios and the effectiveness of program selection and execution measured that way. Each of the steps in the workflow can include multiple roles and engage groups both inside and outside the firewall including customers and partners that are all connected virtually. Their participation is orchestrated automatically from inside the platform at the right stage in the buying or selling journey.
Interestingly enough, such a digital workflow orchestration platform designed for digital Go-to-Market isn’t as far away from reality as some might think. Solutions can put in place today through a platform offered by a start-up called Quest 2 Excel or Q2E. This image below provides a high-level look into what this orchestration could look like.
Today, many customers are leveraging Q2E to orchestrate and execute across their company and partner ecosystems. Simply stated, Q2E allows customers to take the right actions, based on ‘workflow-enabled actionable intelligence’ for their business to excel. Not all components represented above are available off the shelf, but the vision is there and development continues towards achievement.
So what would the benefits of such a platform be to all members of the ecosystem including vendors, partners, suppliers and customers.
- The most impactful benefit is that for the first time the ecosystem can measure the effectiveness and efficiency of ‘how things get done’ end-2-end by program or by portfolio of programs, by partner or cohorts of partners and by function (sales, marketing etc).
- Second is the fact that leaders and participants will all have visible and transparent access. They will be to see what’s going on cross-functionally, and measure cross-functional accountability against a set of defined business objectives and targets. When and where things are going off-track will become apparent before they become escalations, which in turn will improve the ecosystems responsiveness and agility.
- Third is the fact that direct and channel traction will improve as a better means is established to measure ROI from investments (such as MDF or Contra for example) and track the direct effectiveness of marketing or program deliverables.
- Last but not least are the direct cost savings generated as a result standardized and automated processes that can easily scale without building a huge administrative back office.
Alas, creating such a connected ecosystem won’t be easy and requires not just a ‘burning platform’, but vendor, partner and customer leaders who are truly transformational in behavior. They must be willing to innovate and experiment with new approaches to driving ‘HOW’ the work gets done. They must also be totally commitment to the cultural, organizational, governance and operating model changes that will be required to move their organizations forward.
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