An Introduction to a CMO’s Complete Guide to Replatforming

This is the first post in a series to guide CMOs and their marketing teams on how to successfully move off one platform to a new one.

This is the first post in a series to guide CMOs and their marketing teams -- from ecommerce managers to content editors to corporate developers sitting in the IT department -- on how to recognize the signs that a replatforming is justified, how to make the internal business case to fund the project, and what to expect from vendors, agencies, and one’s own teams in successfully moving off one platform to a new one.

Marketing technology is a mutable subcategory of software and services that is exploding in size and options as vendors try to grab their share of the typical CMO’s expanding budget for tools to build, manage, and optimize their digital marketing efforts. It’s also a category characterized by a high degree of turnover and rapid obsolescence as new digital channels (such as social media, wearables and digital signs) emerge and challenge the capabilities of the existing marketing toolkit.

Changing tools and service providers is a challenge that can distract a marketing team from its priorities of building brands and delivering growth, but few changes are more wrenching than a wholesale replatforming of an organization’s websites and other digital content solutions at the heart of most marketing technology stacks.

Redesign vs. Replatform

Redesigning a site is far different from replatforming. The former is akin to painting an old house a new color while the latter is more like tearing it down and starting over again. Redesigns are a common occurrence, one that most contemporary web content management platforms can speed through templates and databases of content kept separate from the actual pages they feed into. Some content management systems offer themes for a quick and dirty redesign, but most enterprise-scale sites generally need a great deal of manual intervention to apply a new design.

The catalyst for a redesign can include the launch of new products or sub-brands; bringing on a new creative agency to audit the brand and suggest a new visual identity, rethinking a cumbersome site architecture or the arrival of a new chief marketing officer who wants to put their own creative stamp on the brand’s primary digital outpost.

Replatforming can be grueling, complicated, and, unlike a redesign, often doesn’t appear to change much on the surface, but can be a wrenching change for the IT team and corporate developers. A replatforming can be triggered by mergers and acquisitions, the “sunsetting” of a legacy content management system, or a more profound digital transformation initiative seeking to put the entire organization on a common platform to bridge internal silos.

Over the next few weeks this series will examine:

  1. How to plan for the move from a CMS to a digital experience platform
  2. Building the business case: How to gain consensus of the leadership team without over-promising and under-delivering
  3. Digital politics: How to work with internal stakeholders from IT to sales in building a replatforming plan
  4. Prepping for the project: Inventory and analysis, working with partners and internal business users.
  5. From MVP to beyond: Planning a phased project plan and a global roll out strategy

I look forward to sharing my experiences over the next few weeks as Acquia’s CMO, leading a successful replatforming of from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 -- an experience we chronicled on this blog in the fall of 2017. I’ll be sharing insights we gained from our Professional Services team, and our digital agency, Huge, who gave us invaluable experience and insight won over the years of working on multiple replatformings with some of the world’s best-known brands.