Horses for courses or Making sure the glove fits

A common short-coming of IT-led projects is to overlook the capabilities, expertise and overall comfort with technology of the potential solution’s business users. It goes without saying that the front-line staff in Marketing, Sales and Customer Services too, who will be using a data-driven marketing technology solution, will not all have the same level and extent of skills in using such technology. Nonetheless, the skill base of everyone involved must be taken into account.

It is important to consider who will use the system being purchase day-to-day, their IT skills as well as attitude and aptitude to develop those skills. One of the most common reasons for marketing systems to be branded a failure is that they are not used correctly – if at all – because they do not enhance users’ working lives. If this occurs then they will be discarded or given limited scope as it is perceived to be too difficult or time consuming to learn how to use them properly.

Should users be most comfortable with simple spreadsheets for example, then take this into account when examining the user interface of candidate solutions, and discard those which require complex configuration to use successfully. Conversely, users who write SQL code, or use SAS analytical software, will be equally frustrated by a solution which restricts them to a narrow range of choices and parameters and does not allow them to drill down in a way they are used to with other tools.

Clearly, finding a solution to match a very wide range of user expertise might be challenging, but if the glove doesn’t fit, it won’t be worn.

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