Luque Wang is a great example of the customer interview to advocate process I've talked a lot about, including most recently with the Product Marketing Community event. What started with me talking to Luque about his HubSpot-Zoho integration at Bedrock Data, turned into a collegial friendship and partnering to speak at the MarTech conference on aligning marketing operations with sales. Luque's journey has gone from startup at Bit Stew Systems to being acquired by GE Digital, so I was very excited to catch up with him and learn about what it's been like going from startup to public company.
Zak: The last time we did this, you were with Bit Stew Systems and we were talking about closed loop reporting between HubSpot & Zoho. Not long after that, Bit Stew was acquired by GE. Do you remember where you were when you found out the news?
Luque: The news came out from a Bit Stew townhall meeting. I remember that it was a sunny Thursday afternoon, and everyone felt excited and started to chat about the upcoming new journey.
Zak: And what was the first thought that went through your head?
Luque: Wow, GE! What a great company to be part of! I was proud of what Bit Stew had achieved that was highly valued by GE, especially our products, brand, and mostly, the great team. I felt grateful to be part of such winning team and made my contribution to the acquisition. Although I was a bit anxious about how Bit Stew’s entrepreneurial spirit, start-up culture, agile operations, and individual talents would best integrate with such world-leading multinational innovative conglomerate, I was very excited and optimistic about the new journey. My first task was to lead the marketing operations’ integration, especially CRM, Marketing Automation, Inside sales and brand sunset. I anticipated a lot of learnings and growth opportunities along this adventure.
Looking back from today, I really enjoy this challenging and rewarding experience. This is all thanks to GE’s great culture, which embraces simplicity and diversity and believes great, world-changing ideas can come from anyone, anywhere in the organization.
Zak: What is your new role now at GE? What are your key responsibilities?
Luque: As a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at GE, I am leading inbound marketing strategies, identifying business opportunities and gaps, and developing innovative solutions. Thinking about everything from revenue funnel alignment and sales enablement to lead gen and lead nurturing; from tech stack management to data governance; and from how to map customer journey with our marketing campaigns to what the best web forms and UX to use to convert visitors to prospects and bring more customers to our solutions.
Zak: You were using many SaaS systems at Bit Stew, and at GE you must be using many, many applications to manage customer data flow and online user experience. What is your ideal martech stack looked like, and how would you leverage it to drive marketing excellence?
Luque: A great martech stack would satisfy business requirements for an organization at all levels. Among many traits, in my opinion, an ideal martech stack must be scalable and flexible, and serves not only marketing and sales but also provides safe and non-intrusive user experiences.
With the rise of martech, there are so much more applications can be chosen to create your stack than ever before. Tools you used yesterday may not be suitable or sufficient for today, you need to make sure it aligns with business strategies and operations, and constantly evaluate and optimize your martech stack. A scalable and flexible martech stack enables you to make such changes with the minimum cost. A good practice is to create a centralized data layer that integrates all the applications rather than having each application directly integrates with each other. Of course, you don’t want to swap your martech applications too frequent for the sake of adding a new “hot” application. Regardless the complexity of businesses or organizational structures, the stability of the martech ecosystem allows you to better see your data flow, discover the flaws, and make necessary changes to your operations.
Zak: You’ve talked a lot about the rise of the marketing operations function. What are the top 3 ways you see marketing operations deliver value to an organization?
Luque: Firs of all, it promotes data-driven decisions and cultivates metrics-driven culture in an organization. Also, it helps identify and close business gaps with technological innovation or with procedure optimization. Finally, marketing operations infuse an organization with the cross-functional knowledge and fresh ideas through its professionals who come from non-traditional marketing fields such as analytics, IT, Sales, Finance, etc.
Zak: What do you anticipating changing around martech and marketing operations over the next few years?
Luque: Martech will continue to grow. More vendors will be available in the market to cover every corner of the funnel, and trace every step of the customers’ journey with actionable insight. I expect that data integration application will be the leading force of the evolutions, followed by powerful analytics and integrated reporting. Businesses at different sizes with different budget will be able to find abundant options to build their martech ecosystems.
Many organizations have already seen the value of marketing operations and have built the dedicate marketing ops teams, yet many have not. Elevate the value of marketing operations will take place within more and more organizations, and I expect to see more such roles to be created over the next few years.