I've been working in marketing automation software space for close to six years now. During that time I've spoken to hundreds of marketers at various stages of adopting MA technology. When talking at various events, the question/comment that keeps popping up is - "how do I get started with marketing automation? It seems really difficult." There's no wonder - to an outsider looking in, implementing a system with all the proper business processes can be a daunting process - especially if you think about doing it all at once. My number one piece of advice - baby steps. Rome wasn't built in a day - or a week - or a month for that matter. At its heart, marketing automation is solving a fundamental business problem - how can we as marketers effectively move leads through the pipeline to ensure that sales is engaging only leads that are ready to buy, while marketing continues to engage those that aren't ready to buy in a dialog with lead nurturing.
At the heart there are three components that need to be addressed with this business problem: People, Process, and Technology. A marketing automation solution is just one piece of the puzzle. People and process are the other key components. Each of these offer their own challenges. Think about the process component - how many people are involved in touching a lead within your organization? It's impossible to think that this is going to change overnight.
My advice - view marketing automation and it's implementation as a journey - not a destination. Draw out a road-map of where you would like to get to and all the corresponding people and processes that are involved. Then build out stages. Getting from point A to point B is much easier than trying to figure out how to get to the end of your journey in one big implementation. Every journey starts with a first step. Take it.