How much should marketers allocate to R&D when trying out new tech?

With so many shiny new technologies constantly entering the market, deciding on which tech to indulge and educate yourself on can be an overwhelming process for marketers. Moreover, getting buy-in from different stakeholders can also be an uphill task.

Speaking at a recent panel discussion at the NEXT Malaysia conference, Nadia Jalil, CEO and founder, MyBump Media, said a dedicated research team is also needed to conduct tests on new platforms.

“About 35,000 new companies are being registered every single month in Malaysia, and when you look at it from that scale, this means you are constantly competing with other brands and businesses," she said.

"But if you don't do it, you are going to be stuck while all your competition moves forward in the tech space,” Jalil said. As such, investing in new technology could help your business stand out.  However it isn't always going to be successful, and brands should be ready to take the risk.  Jalil added that in Malaysia, advertisers are still “very conservative” when it comes to looking at the results.

When it comes to investment, Jalil added:

About seven to 10% of your marketing budget should be put towards research and development.

Marketers also need to re-look at how they position themselves in the company.

“When you look at the marketing team in a company, they usually work as a unit. In my honest view, this is wrong. You should be working as a business because you need to constantly improve yourself and look outside what is going on. That way you can leverage on new channels and mode of engagements with consumers,” Jalil explained.

Gaurav Bhasin, CEO of, said when it comes to emerging technology, companies don’t always have to try and take the whole stack in-house first. One easy way is to work with service-based and cloud-based companies to understand and determine what needs to be created in house.Doing so, also allows brands to become more asset-light.

“Decide if the new technology is strategic enough for you to build it in house, or if it is a better idea to take it from partners who are spending significant time improving and making it a core business for themselves,” Bhasin explained.

Eugene Lee, marketing director, McDonald’s Restaurants Malaysia, said that when it comes to looking at the “next big thing” in technology, it is easy to lose focus on the customer and strategy behind it. As such, it is also easy to lose sight of why the organisation is hopping on the technology trend in the first place.

Instead of just focusing on the new tactics involved in the new technology, Lee added that marketers should always look at strategy first when it comes to planning and allocating the marketing spend. This extends to both new emerging technologies and what is “tried and tested in the past”.

When you go into the boardroom, don’t just go in and sell that shiny new thing. Instead, sell the entire holistic strategy.

Elaborating more on McDonald’s experience with new tech and research, Lee explained that just three years ago, McDonald’s was still spending around 80-90% of its marketing budget on traditional media. Today however, there is a significant spend of around 70-75% on digital. He added, "It wasn’t a move or process which happened overnight."