Dark Tech and Zombie Products—Uncovering Your Hidden Products
As you work to document all the products that your company has purchased, it is important to also identify all the custom products and integration code that have been developed internally. It’s not unusual for companies to have as many internally developed marketing technology products as acquired products. These internally developed products are frequently referred to as “dark tech,” because in many cases, very few people know that they exist and far fewer, if any, are tracking them.
It’s also important to try and uncover the Zombie products that might exist in your organization. Zombie products are subscription-based products that someone in the organization subscribed to and is no longer using. Zombie products can contribute greatly to bloated technology expenses. Digging up Zombie products can be challenging and may require working with your accounting department to review pages of credit card data. One place to start is by using Builtwith; Builtwith offers a free tool that scans your site and attempts to identify the tools currently in use. Though not always 100% accurate— since marketers are generally terrible about cleaning up code and tags on their sites when they stop using a product — it’s a great starting point.
Finally, if you are using agencies to implement and manage technology for you, it is important to catalog those agencies and the products that are being implemented on your behalf in order to develop a complete technology picture. Make sure that you know who is paying for the product and understand the implications of severing your relationship with each agency, should that become necessary.
Note: This also applies to 3rd party data providers. It’s not uncommon for companies to pay five-figure licenses for data that entirely duplicates what they’re already buying from someone else.