When concrete meets water

Last Summer, I randomly came across an article in the Guardian about Why Roman concrete still stands strong while modern version decays. An interesting read, which I remembered this morning during a rant from one of my colleagues.

My colleague was slightly frustrated whilst working on a “show room project.” They are building a site that demoes the capabilities of a bunch of Experience Cloud solutions for a specific client. You could call it a highly personalised demo for the client, driven by the IT department, and aimed at the different country organisations.

In our consulting organisation, this kind of project has been done a lot of times, but most often, it is focussed on the platform and delivery of content.

This time round, the customer wanted to integrate Analytics into the mix, and that’s where my colleague is working on.

What have the Romans ever done for us?

My colleague’s project was going on while I was thinking about and writing an article on my German blog about why Germans can’t optimise (if you read German: Deutsche können nicht optimieren), which covers the marketing side of the same medal.

If I read the article in the Guardian, or rather its interpretation of the findings of Marie Jackson, a geologist at the University of Utah (always Utah!) correctly, the main difference is that Roman concrete takes into account that it will change over time (and doing so, actually manages to get better), while modern concrete, once it hardens, is supposed to stay as it is (which means it can only go down hill).

That makes a lot of sense in my head. It ties back to articles like Implementation is not key, and it describes one fundamental truth in Analytics and maybe Marketing: there is no finish line.

My colleague found herself working with a bunch of people for whom it was obvious that once they were done (soon!), the project was over, while she approached it with an optimisation mind set — lay foundations, make small, incremental changes, measure, learn, optimise, and never, ever stop.

Even in our consulting group (which isn’t that big), we have trouble dealing with these opposing mind sets, but in a sense, we are just a small-scale image of what is going on in the world: IT still thinking in projects and goals that must be ticked off, while your friendly marketer just wants to improve everything she can get her hands on, constantly.

I guess you, as a developer, can appreciate where we’re coming from. If you have been on any agile projects, you might also understand how hard it can be for us and for Marketing. No goal? No finish? How do we ever know you did your job? When are you done? Well, there are metrics, and I never am.

That’s why we, consultants working on Analytics, Target, Audience Manager, Media Optimiser, …, would sometimes like our colleagues on AEM or Campaign to be less modern concrete, and more Roman.

Frankly, I think you guys know that the sites you build will not live forever, right?

4 thoughts on “When concrete meets water

  1. Your colleagues in the AEM world traditionally don’t have marketeers as customers, but rather IT departments. And IT thinks in projects and likes the “now the maintenance period starts, until we decide to do major changes again in a project scope” paradigma.

    That’s a cultural problem. Because changes on these IT systems often caused stability and performance issues, required testing and project management and therefor is quite costly.

    I think that this is typical struggle between frontend and backend. At the moment the frontend complexity tends to increase dramatically, let’s see if changes and tweaks still remain easy to do.
    (But of course the backend stuff has a lot of room for improvement. No need to argue about that.)


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