Is your company a data laggard, a data striver, or a data leader? In a Harvard Business Review article that assessed hundreds of different business variables, the authors identified several key aspects that dictate which category your organization may belong in. Among those factors were: Are analytics being used across the business? Is senior leadership committed to data best practices? Are business information management and analytics part of strategic efforts?
Companies that resist upgrading their tech stacks and prioritizing data will quickly fall into the ‘laggard’ group. Others that align their business operations to get the most value out of data—or even put more effort toward doing so—become strivers and leaders. If you’re aiming for that gold standard of being dubbed ‘data leader,’ let your tech stack do most of the work for you and focus on unifying your data sets.
For some, investing in the “Walled Garden” approach seems the fastest way to upgrade, choosing a single provider – such as Salesforce – for your all your CRM, marketing, and customer support efforts. All good, but what about the other revenue applications in your stack? How do those integrate beyond the basic native integrations that may be possible? And are the walled garden versions of HubSpot or Salesforce the best systems for managing ERP, support, CS, and marketing needs? Perhaps not.
In this guide, we’ll dive into the walled garden approach, look at the cost of a typical business tech stack, and see how you can get the most value from all those platforms.
What Is the “Walled Garden” Approach?
To start, let’s be clear about what a “walled garden” is. You may be taking this approach in your organization without knowing that’s what it’s called.
The term walled garden refers to an environmental approach in which an end-user journey is somewhat defined. An end user can navigate outside the garden to perform tasks or take an alternate approach, but doing so is more difficult than staying within the environment. Walled gardens are generally created when an organization builds workflows dependent on a single revenue technology provider, attempting to streamline and simplify both their workflows and cost structure.
Take Salesforce as an example. Your system administrator or Salesforce Engineer will construct an environment with set paths and locked areas. Each user will only have access to the part of the garden they require, and their view has a directed navigation setup that orients their activity through the environment. Think of it as a map in a botanical garden, but every user has a different map based on their needs and interests.
Guiding user journeys and condensing business processes into a unified space can give administrators more control, and end users will likely spend less time with guesswork since their scope is limited. However, while the walled garden approach can make data sets and business tools less overwhelming, they also limit users from delivering optimal customer interactions since those users don’t have a 360° view of their customers.
Then there are those best-in-class business tools that can serve departmental and organizational needs outside of a walled garden. You’ll recognize these best-of-breed programs, and they may represent a fraction of your company’s total RevTech stack:
- Marketing Automation Systems: Marketo
- Support Systems: Zendesk
- Customer Success Tools: ChurnZero and Vitally
- Finance ERP Systems: NetSuite and QuickBooks
- Databases: Snowflake and MySQL
- eCommerce Platforms: Magento and Shopify
- Sales Enablement Platforms: SalesLoft and Outreach
- BI Platforms: Domo and Power BI
- Other Systems: Google Docs/Sheets and Slack
Disparate Data: Your Tech Stack Is Your Garden
Depending on the size of your business or the industry you play in, there are many CRM and marketing automation tools. This article will focus on Dynamics, HubSpot, and Salesforce as CRMs to illustrate unifying your data and making the most of your available tools.
Dynamics, HubSpot, and Salesforce CRMs form the backbone of many company tech stacks. They house customer and deal data and are robust enough to offer customizable configurations for any company’s unique workflow. Their robust functionality and array of plugins and integrations make them a default choice for many organizations.
Historically, your salespeople would spend most of their time glued to their Salesforce, Dynamics, or HubSpot dashboards and deal desks. Other departments would occasionally dabble in those data sets directly on the platform, if the admin gave them access. Still, they’d usually spend time extracting and using the data in their preferred platforms like Marketo (for marketing teams), NetSuite (for finance teams), Gainsight (for CS teams), or Zendesk (for customer support departments).
Over the past few years, things have become more streamlined, with APIs and user friendly integrations letting users eliminate some of those manual data transfer steps.
Suppose you step back and look at your tech stack (which often involves Dynamics, Salesforce, or HubSpot playing the role of customer data system of record while department-specific tools branch out around the periphery). In that case, you can take different strategic views to find the most supportive workflow and environment for your business and goals, but only if data is shared openly and freely.
Accessing Data and Maximizing Insights
Choosing an industry-leading platform like Dynamics, Salesforce, or HubSpot to build a walled garden can be a great foundational choice for SMBs due to their level of functionality required and where they sit on the data management maturity curve. As they scale into the mid market, some organizations choose to bring in additional best-of-breed apps like Salesloft and Netsuite for added functionality which aids in revenue expansion and scaleability. Ultimately, however, you’ll still need support in maximizing data sharing and insights to inform your business decisions.
Adding a flexible and affordable data automation solution is key. With the help of data automation, your organization can connect other apps like data warehouses, ERPs, marketing, CS, support, and sales enablement tools without losing visibility. With an automation solution at the nucleus of your RevTech stack, mid market and enterprise companies can build more trust and execute at a higher level.
Don’t trust that native integrations are able to support your business goals. The more customized your environment – such as multiple instances of Salesforce or custom objects and fields – the more you risk challenges in error resolution, hygiene, and transformation. Ultimately, these challenges will prevent your business from scaling.
An integrated data automation solution is the thread to weave it all together. If your frame of reference for data automation is a legacy iPaaS solution, it is time for you to take another look at the new revenue and data automation solutions that are on the market. Legacy was cumbersome, requiring heavy IT involvement. However, newer, more innovative solutions are revenue team minded and require zero IT involvement, giving back control to revenue leaders.
The Components of a Common Scaling SMB to Mid Market Tech Stack
It’s not just that your teams get more insights with better data structures, though that’s a significant value-add. Your organization can also access the full capabilities of all the tools in your tech stack. Modern updates of business tools are generally built out with robust communication, integration, and data-sharing options—provided the user has the correct setup to tap into them.
When eyeing the walled garden, keep in mind that it’s not likely to be a stand-alone approach. Meaning, you will need other apps outside of that walled garden to realize your goals and potential. You won’t do away with many of the other systems in your tech stack. Instead, you’ll want to use them to their fullest potential by connecting them with your garden and other revenue apps.
To help you with budgeting, let’s look at the general cost of common business tools and how a headless, more fluid eco-systemic approach ensures you maximize your ROI.
Storage: $3k Annual
Prioritizing clean data storage is essential. You need to house data in cloud-based storage facilities that allow equal—and secure—access throughout the tech stack.
Support: $4,800 Annual
Customer support software should do more than help organize tickets and track escalations. Account managers and marketers need the details to personalize their approaches. Even the CFO needs access, as support insights can help forecast retention and revenue.
Sales Enablement: $7,500 Annual
Sales enablement and training resources should wind into every aspect of sales behavior. Whether you have key account strategy templates, strategies tied to specific marketing campaigns, or AI sales training, sales enablement software can use data from the rest of your operation to push for better results.
Customer Success Platform: $10k Annual
Customer success platforms give users a 360° view of customer activity, account details, and trends. Ideally, they pull data from marketing tools, sales platforms, and customer support tickets to provide comprehensive insight. However, this isn’t possible when they can’t access data from every step of a customer’s journey.
eCommerce: $80k Annual
Increasingly, businesses rely on online storefronts as much as physical ones. eCommerce spending incorporates the online storefront and associated tools (such as Shopify or BigCommerce), merchant processing systems, and customer support systems before, during, and after purchase.
Each facet of eCommerce management generates valuable data. But if the data is siloed, you can’t accurately attribute online sales to different marketing campaigns or build more detailed customer personas.
BI: $2k Annual
Business intelligence (BI) software processes and analyzes data to generate helpful reports and insights, provide data-backed recommendations for decision-makers, and allow users to visualize large or complex data better. If your BI software only pulls from major data channels, it will not give you an accurate picture. Opt for an automation and data integration partner rather than individual APIs and transient integration points.
ERP: $12k Annual
All of your revenue and forecasted revenue will significantly impact any resource planning. Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, tools can help teams manage day-to-day tasks such as billing and accounting, procurement and vendor management, human resources, and corporate performance (among others). With the proper integration ecosystem, your ERP tools can facilitate strategic planning, not just manual budgeting and expense tracking.
Marketing Automation: $20k Annual
From first touch to last touch, marketing automation has become a staple in the RevTech stack for SMB to the enterprise. It is no longer a nice-to-have for marketing teams. Marketing automation solutions like Marketo and HubSpot are central to marketing success, and with marketing automation in place, marketers are able to get one step closer to revenue driven success.
HubSpot CRM ($26k Annual) or Salesforce CRM ($35k Annual)
All of those expenses are on top of the biggest platform line items on your tech stack bill: your CRM. HubSpot and Salesforce form the central hub of tech stacks for most businesses, built to work with other tools. However, it’s up to most business users to create the right level of integration and automation they want by choosing the right tools and ecosystem for those tools to communicate in. Keep in mind that if you take the walled garden approach with these solutions, your cost can increase exponentially as you adopt marketing, CS, support, finance, and data automation functionality within these walled gardens.
Human (Data Engineer): $200k
Depending on the size of your company, you may have a single data engineer or a team. Like with your tech stack, you want to get as much value as possible from your engineer. This means doing away with manual tasks in favor of automation—and minimizing tedious troubleshooting by investing in a data integration ecosystem that works without frequent tweaks and fixes.
Then, your data engineer can spend more time on valuable tasks: creating a secure virtual business environment. This includes ensuring all tools speak to one another correctly, building robust workflows that capitalize on all the tools in your tech stack, and providing your employees and customers with a streamlined experience.
Data engineers can corral (or, more accurately, create processes that work 24/7 to corral) increasingly large volumes of data into valuable, real-time insights that everyone in the revenue team can use.
Maximize the ROI of All That Spending With Vertify
When you add up all the numbers for your tech stack, you might be cautious about adding anything else. But trying to make do with APIs and custom fixes manually can cost your business a lot in terms of wasted hours and incomplete insights. Vertify is a data integration and automation solution that connects all your platforms so everyone can access good data. It’s a savings center designed to maximize ROI and minimize waste, not a cost center. When you invest in solutions like Marketo, NetSuite, Dynamics, HubSpot, Salesforce, ZenDesk, and Snowflake, you need to get the most out of those class-leading solutions. Vertify is built to help you get the most out of your investment. See how it works today by scheduling a demo with our team, and get ready to build a better garden.