For many companies, customers are now buyers, many of whom are clearly driving the buying process, no matter if the purchases are personal or business-related. As a result, the on-going customer experience with the enterprise has gained importance. Both Marketing and IT have substantial roles in customer engagement, with marketing technology growing in sophistication and variety. But in many companies IT and Marketing are not working as partners to help nurture the high quality customer interactions that are essential for successful outcomes to buying processes.
When IT resources are not readily available to support time-sensitive initiatives, marketing groups have frequently implemented their own technology solutions as a form of Shadow IT. New approaches to effective customer engagement lean heavily on cloud/SaaS based technologies that are fast to set up and use by non-IT staff. Unfortunately a side effect of not including the IT group has led to significant problems: new data silos, separate operations and analytics – and an overall lack of integration with other systems in the company.
The marketing technologist is a growing role that is helping to bridge marketing and IT, and help the enterprise become more strategic about marketing and its technologies. Scott Brinker has published an extensive and well-crafted piece on the rise of the marketing technologist, describing "technology-powered marketing" where "Marketing must take ownership of the technology in its domain". Brinker also makes the case for highly functional collaborations between IT and Marketing:
..technology decisions and marketing strategy are intertwined. You can't address one without impacting the other.
Indeed, marketing has become increasingly technology-driven, relying on marketing management platforms, analytics (multiple), various software systems for content (WCM, WEM, DAM), BPM, VMS (vertical marketing system), social media, lead gen, mobile / multichannel management. We should also throw in master data management, CRM, data/application integration processes, and various intelligence and reporting platforms. Marketing alone cannot and should not be in charge of all of these systems; conversely IT has to step up and support cross-enterprise integrations and the availability of many kinds of data to marketing functions.
A better approach is the enablement and empowerment of IT and Marketing working as true collaborative partners, with integrated goals and metrics. Upper management must fully support the elimination of silos, and free up IT to work on strategic initiatives. The enterprise can grow and thrive through innovating how it works in cross-functional teams with common purpose. A collaboration culture can lead to and encourage a healthy innovation culture, both of which often lead to business success and competitive agility.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts both software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitive and on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective