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\u2019s 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\u2019re still orienting themselves to the problem and current solutions.\n\n\nTo 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.\n\n\nI recently attended Gartner\u2019s 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\u2019s presentation was that one-third of marketing\u2019s budget today is spent on technology. However, of that 33 percent there\u2019s even something more telling\u201428 percent of the marketing technology budget is typically allocated to operations.\n\n\nThat\u2019s a significant chunk!\n\n\nAt this point you may be wondering why today\u2019s marketers are spending so much on technology enablement for their department. There\u2019s a simple reason for this: They do not have a choice.\n\n\nTo execute in today\u2019s 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.\n\n\nSo, what does the marketing technology stack look like? There\u2019s two main components:\n\n\nFirst 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\u2019s information. This can come in form of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data management platforms (DMP) and other various marketing automation tools.\n\n\nAccording to the latest Gartner research, the top use cases that businesses are trying to solve relates back to the customer\u2014this includes marketing, sales and customer service initiatives.\n\n\nThe second major component is a bit more complex. That\u2019s because in order to take this customer information and put it to use, today\u2019s marketer needs a slew of point solutions to execute on marketing\u2019s efforts. Because marketers are constantly chasing the best-in-breed product, that means the stack continues to grow to fit departmental needs. It\u2019s not uncommon to have an enterprise-grade marketing organization leveraging more than 20 systems to carry out their daily tasks.\n\n\nBelow is an example of a marketing technology stack that participated in Scott Brinker\u2019s annual Stackies Awards.\n\n Scott Brinker \n\nAn example of a marketing technology stack from Scott Brinker's Stackies Awards.\n\n\n\nWhat 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\u2019s efforts are succeeding or floundering. There\u2019s just one problem. If marketers have upwards of 20 source systems, putting together this information can be difficult\u2014of 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\u2019re connected for data analysis.\n\n\nThis 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\u2019re performing with customers on a micro level. If only it was that easy and today\u2019s latest tools could bring together this data.\n\n\nThis is why many of today\u2019s 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.\n\n\nThis is why now, more than ever, today\u2019s marketers and IT need to work together. Imagine a world where the marketing department was integrated with the broader company\u2019s tech stack.\n\n\nTo 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\u2019re 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.