Marketing tech pros,‘Frankenstack’ tools and the future

Today’s marketers are asked to take control of the digital customer experience, from brand awareness to sales conversion to customer loyalty. To make this work, marketers need an integrated set of tools. Instead, what has emerged are ‘Frankenstack’ tools. CIO.com talks to marketing tech expert Scott Brinker about the challenges that lie ahead.

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On top of that, there are many more specialized point solutions, such as content marketing, social media marketing, very often more specialized analytics capabilities. The diagram is not intended to propose an architecture.

CIO.com: Marketers get caught up in specialized point solutions, but a central repository of customer data seems to be key to all this.

Brinker: Marketing as a rule is not a very analytical discipline. But now we've got so much data coming from so many different channels, it is overwhelming. The architecture I'm hearing about is, ultimately, there should be some centralized repository of data, which people are calling a data lake. All the data feeds into this lake, not just on customers and prospects but also on your market, how you're performing from a financial perspective.

Then you set up a mechanism by which different departments -- whether it's marketing, customer service or finance -- can apply their own teams to mining that. If this becomes the central repository where marketing is going to mine insights, it also creates an incentive for them to want to make sure that all the systems that generate data are properly connected to that data lake. Technically, this feels like the right architecture.

One of the reasons why I have an infrastructure set of categories at the bottom of the graphic is to surface some of that visibility. When people think about technology components that marketing is becoming dependent on, they should recognize things like the core data systems.

The CMO of EMC was talking at MarTech about how they created a data lake. While the data lake was built and managed by IT, the CMO had his own marketing team of data scientists leveraging the data lake to be able to do analysis relevant to them. EMC is probably on the more sophisticated end of marketing departments today, but I think you're starting to get more and more marketers recognizing that marketing technology isn't just about things like the website or social media management tool. It's more about how to connect marketing to the broader infrastructure that, frankly, runs across the whole company.

The nature of point solutions is that there's a high variance about how much integration needs to happen for a point solution to be valuable to a marketer. That bar is changing over time. If I'm using a content marketing tool that helps scan the Internet for content pieces on topics I'm interested in and helps me curate them so that I can keep a queue of good stories that I want publish on the website or blog, there's not a lot of integration touch points.

If I'm using a social relationship platform to track customers' social interactions, this isn't just a marketing thing. It ends up connecting back into customer service and mobile sales. Once you get those data streams coming at you, do you want to find a way to connect that back into the core CRM? At that point, you have serious questions coming from an IT architecture perspective about integrating these components.

CIO.com: How does IT fit in?

Brinker: Some of these point solutions that marketers are running on their own, I don't think they should be doing completely on their own. There should be rules of IT governance. If you're using a SaaS product, what are the requirements for the security of data, service level agreements, these sorts of things? When you're putting the company's brand on the line, you need at least a minimal set of assurances from an IT professional.

This is new for IT as well. The number of different marketing systems and the pace of change is overwhelming for technical professionals. This stuff is at a very accelerated cadence compared to other waves of enterprise technology.

Part of why I advocate for technology savvy people working in marketing is not so much to take away responsibility from IT, rather once you have the systems in place, how do you apply them? It requires people who know what technology is capable of, but can also relate it to the marketing strategy and customer experience.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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