Why IT and marketing need to work together

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For years, the IT and marketing departments have had a rocky relationship. As marketer's need to better understand the customer, it requires the investment and use of a significant amount of technology. It's time that the feud come to an end and both parties work together to grow today's cutting-edge businesses.

One thing systemically changing businesses of all stripes today is data. While it may seem that many companies have gotten their arms around the complicated data situation, it’s as clear as ever that is not the case. Although the marketing department is being tasked with providing a more enriched interaction between businesses and their respective customers, the reality is that they’re still orienting themselves to the problem and current solutions.

To help you better understand what marketing is dealing with and why the Information Technology (IT) department needs to help, let me set the scene for you. As noted in my previous post, cross-departmental collaboration is a keystone to delivering a modern, cost effective marketing strategy.

I recently attended Gartner’s Digital Marketing Conference, which provided me the opportunity to interact with many marketers, chief information officers and industry analysts. During my time at the event, one statistic presented in an analyst’s presentation was that one-third of marketing’s budget today is spent on technology. However, of that 33 percent there’s even something more telling—28 percent of the marketing technology budget is typically allocated to operations.

That’s a significant chunk!

At this point you may be wondering why today’s marketers are spending so much on technology enablement for their department. There’s a simple reason for this: They do not have a choice.

To execute in today’s modern marketing environment, practitioners need to have technology at their disposal. Technology is now a cornerstone for the marketing department because chief marketing officers are being pressed to intimately understand their customers, and their respective behaviors, to improve the relationship between the brand and consumer. As you may expect, this means that the marketing technology stack is quite complex.

So, what does the marketing technology stack look like? There’s two main components:

First is the system of record. In order to put together profiles at the individual customer level, this requires that marketing invest in a variety of ways to collect the consumer’s information. This can come in form of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data management platforms (DMP) and other various marketing automation tools.

According to the latest Gartner research, the top use cases that businesses are trying to solve relates back to the customer—this includes marketing, sales and customer service initiatives.

The second major component is a bit more complex. That’s because in order to take this customer information and put it to use, today’s marketer needs a slew of point solutions to execute on marketing’s efforts. Because marketers are constantly chasing the best-in-breed product, that means the stack continues to grow to fit departmental needs. It’s not uncommon to have an enterprise-grade marketing organization leveraging more than 20 systems to carry out their daily tasks.

Below is an example of a marketing technology stack that participated in Scott Brinker’s annual Stackies Awards.

Stacks Awards examples Scott Brinker

An example of a marketing technology stack from Scott Brinker's Stackies Awards.

What you have to keep in mind is that each one of these point solutions has its own user interface that provides analytics, which can be helpful to better understand if the marketing department’s efforts are succeeding or floundering. There’s just one problem. If marketers have upwards of 20 source systems, putting together this information can be difficult—of course this is assuming that the team knows which information it wants to bring together, and can decipher what is simply noise and what is of the utmost importance. While pieces of the stack can be connected natively that does not mean they’re connected for data analysis.

This means that in order to get the most out of this information it requires combining these various data points. That way, marketers can understand how they’re performing with customers on a micro level. If only it was that easy and today’s latest tools could bring together this data.

This is why many of today’s marketers rely on impractical solutions such as cramming as much data into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets as possible. You can only imagine the pain and suffering of manually gathering data points into complex Excel documents.

This is why now, more than ever, today’s marketers and IT need to work together. Imagine a world where the marketing department was integrated with the broader company’s tech stack.

To make this happen it will require participation from both IT and marketing leaders who have notoriously clashed in the past. In addition, roles that bridge the IT and marketing gap will need to come to fruition. We’re already seeing the start of this with chief marketing technologist but there needs to be more professionals that possess a mix of domain as well as technical knowledge.

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