Dependency on Marketing and Technology for Hosting Infrastructure Requirements
In the 21st century, every organization, be it big, small, or tiny, uses tools of Information Technology for its marketing function. Today’s marketing initiatives invariably include rapidly deploying digital customer experiences for varied marketing objectives, including lead generation, customer acquisition, customer delivery, and retention activities.1
However, an area that does not seem to capture a lot of attention of marketers in the context of cloud-enabled marketing is that of hosting infrastructure on which such digital customer experience systems are to rest.2 ,3 The implication is that in many organizations that are not digitally mature, the marketers often do not play a role early enough when deciding on hosting infrastructure requirements for websites and marketing applications. They may not realize the linkage between their marketing objectives and strategy and the implications for hosting infrastructure. It can lead to scenarios where either the marketing activities get derailed, or there is a significant overspend on hosting infrastructure. 4 While there are options provided by hosting service providers like auto-scaling, the chance of spilling over the budget is very high if these kinds of features are not used carefully.
Marketing and Hosting Infrastructure
It is always good for marketing functions to be involved in this decision so that there is better capacity optimization and timing of capacity expansion or contraction. Further, cloud-based hosting infrastructure is key in scalability, user experience, customer privacy, and data security and directly impacts the organization’s brand. 5 Therefore, time spent by the marketing team on a decision like this is certainly not wasted.
While hosting infrastructure may not be core to marketing, it is definitely an enabler, and marketers should have a say on the decision table regarding hosting infrastructure.
Let us take a little more detailed look at how marketers can frame questions to help identify the right hosting infrastructure for their organization.
Hosting Infrastructure requirement has to be aligned with two key areas of marketing objectives:
- Plans for digital transformation across lead generation, customer acquisition, customer service delivery, and customer retention.
- Change management plans/organization development plans to attain a certain level of digital maturity to utilize such capabilities.
Digital Experience Attributes
The hosting infrastructures should be selected based on the capabilities of providing a well-integrated digital experience platform with a cohesive set of technologies and enabling the composition, management, delivery, and optimization of contextualized digital experiences across the multi-experience customer journeys.5
The multi-experience customer journeys depend on the web platform's existing and future potential. The confluence of marketing and technology is required to provide a better experience across user journeys. Some of the key areas of hosting infrastructure that is necessary for this collaboration are:
- CDN: Dependent on the volume of anticipated traffic, which is, in turn, a result of the marketing activation investments, the type of content to be used for engaging the customer, and the requirement to reach the target audience faster
- Website and Information Security: Dependent on the vulnerability to attacks, the type of data of the customer that is collected on the websites, and the levels of protection required
- Monolithic vs. multi-site vs. decoupled vs. progressively decoupled architecture: Affected by the need to provide a personalized user experience to multiple segments and geographies.
- Content Velocity: Dependent on the planned content publishing frequency and volumes based on the marketing plans
- Page views: Dependent on the traffic from organic and marketing channels
- Hosting environments and deployment model: Depends on the process of deploying new changes to the website.
- Whether software testing team involved in quality assurance?
- A staging environment for the user acceptance testing before deployment?
- Can automation testing ensure the digital platform’s integrity when new changes are deployed?
Selection Story of an NBFC
We are using one of our case studies to illustrate how marketing can influence the hosting infrastructure decision of an organization.
Zyxware Technologies Private Limited has been engaged with a large Non-Banking financial corporation (NBFC) as a partner for the digital transformation of its customer experience. One of the key activities is to select a Hosting Infrastructure for the digital platform that aligns with their plans for digital transformation across lead generation, customer acquisition, customer service delivery, and customer retention required to build the platform as a lead generation platform leading to personalized customer experiences across the user journey.
Zyxware’s involvement in selecting hosting infrastructure brought a data-driven decision-making approach examining the linkage between marketing objectives, strategy, and the hosting infrastructure. Zyxware defined the process below to recommend the hosting infrastructure for the digital platform to meet this selection.
- Analyze the short-term and long-term marketing plans, including campaign ideas, content strategy, ad spend, expected audience sizes.
- Assess the legal environment from the point of view of data security to be offered as well as the physical location of the server.
- Prepare a framework of must-have, should-have, could-have, and won’t-have (MoSCoW) attributes for the hosting infrastructure.
- Collect proposals from hosting infrastructure providers.
- Evaluate the proposals against the attributes above.
- Conclude the comparison with the recommendation of a hosting infrastructure specification and matching vendor.
Some of the specific inputs obtained from marketing for defining the hosting infrastructure specifications are as below.
- The anticipated traffic on the platform is based on the marketing plans and the content used for user awareness, engagement, or education. We took the existing traffic as per Google Analytics and provided for a 20 percent increase in traffic volumes, given the planned spending on advertising and promotions.
- The campaign plans gave us an insight into the expected content publishing velocity and the type and volume of content - text, video, audio, and images.
- Plan for enhancing the user experience through personalization and regional language multi-websites and, therefore, the need for rapid deployment capabilities.
- Compliance with regulatory authorities for the security of customers as well as the need for servers to be located in a specific geography.
We were able to come up with a hosting infrastructure specifications recommendation based on this and also propose a potential vendor for the same.
The key challenges here are (1) facilitating cross-functional (marketing, IT, legal) communication and (2) devising an appropriate methodology for forecasting demand. These are areas where significant improvements have to happen in many organizations that are on their digital transformation journey. Until the mature models emerge, we will need to move with intelligent trial and error and, perhaps, incur the cost of auto-scaling in high critical areas.
[With inputs from Thomas P Thomas and Vimal Joseph.]