Until fairly recently, marketers could execute their strategies and programs with fairly limited interaction with IT. As long as the IT folks promptly handled help desk requests, ensured computers were running well and generated key business intelligence reports, marketing could work with their partners, software providers and other vendors largely independently of the in-house tech team.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, big data and other existing, emerging and promising technologies are changing all of that. Today, a massive amount of data is available within numerous disparate systems inside and outside an organization, rendering inadequate traditional business intelligence, third-party SaaS and other information tools and dashboards. A robust, integrated view of martech investments, roadmaps and best practices is needed to compete for limited customer attention, build engagement and grow revenue and market share.
Here are five tips on how to power more value from your martech investments.
- Form a stronger bond with IT
As you plan your marketing technology strategies for 2018 and beyond it is critical that you create a thoughtful, well-funded and measurable digital transformation. To do this well, the blueprint should strive to pinpoint and examine the biggest and best market opportunities, the most useful and cost-effective technologies for both IT and marketing teams, and where the significant gaps are. Only then can you devise and execute a successful marketing technology roadmap hand-in-hand with IT and other internal stakeholders.
Unfortunately, there is often a fundamental divide between how marketing and IT departments approach technology. Marketing frequently implements technology solutions that are quick to install and run – often with little or no IT support – with a focus on speed, not integration. In contrast, IT implements the foundation to operate the entire enterprise, which takes planning and time to implement.
Pressure on marketing to improve the customer experience across every interaction, from consideration and purchase to billing and customer service, has created a need for marketing to work more closely with IT to engage the entire enterprise infrastructure without losing momentum. The largest intersection is data and how to keep it clean, secure and actionable. So, how do you reach across the void to collaborate more effectively with your IT team?
- Complementary strengths
IT forces marketing leaders to think systematically to achieve desired outcomes that best benefit your company, help reach your top-line revenue goals, and enhance customer experiences, retention and growth. Marketing forces IT to think about external benefits to the company, focus on time-to-value and how to operate as a profit center. You should work to each other’s strengths to fully leverage these complementary skillsets to your mutual success and advantage.
- Know what you’re asking for
This may seem obvious, but understanding the different approaches to technology will help both sides innovate how marketing technology is deployed. The traditional process of specifying requirements that IT then executes on is too slow. It’s also less relevant in a big data analytics environment where machine learning discovers correlations not surfaced by gathering requirements.
Focus on outcomes. If you need to reduce churn, what data will surface possible correlations, what levers are available to execute on data-driven insights, and what are the best methods to operationalize the results to achieve time-to-market goals? With outcomes in mind develop the martech strategy and roadmap with your IT partners.
- Agree on measurable outcomes
Understanding how you are going to keep score and measure outcomes enables the marketing/IT collaboration to effectively adjust your martech strategy as you go. The combined team should quickly abandon data insights that on the surface may seem valuable, but will likely meet roadblocks that make them inactionable or untimely in the context of your organization’s current capability.
- Understand how IT prioritizes their project portfolio
IT has to balance the maintenance of systems that keep the organization running with innovative projects that move the company into the optimal competitive position. Ultimately, IT should have a portfolio management concept, maintaining a “book of work” that looks across the organization to ensure projects are being completed in order of importance and urgency to the overall business’ success. At this point of marketing’s reliance on technology, marketing should be prepared to articulate its point of view with regard to IT’s book of work and develop a portfolio of investments jointly managed with IT.
That might mean the HR system overhaul that reduces new hire time from eight weeks to four weeks because the company is shorthanded takes precedent over your customer experience proof-of-concept. Or that a new billing system that can more effectively capture existing revenue streams should take priority over the new revenue opportunity you are trying to create and implement in the marketing department.
One way to keep your martech needs, priorities and projects top-of-mind, properly funded and strongly supported is by being a good partner with IT, which means collaborating on outcomes and business cases. IT’s ability and interest in working with you will increase when you help shape your projects for accelerated time-to-value and then partner effectively throughout execution by staying focused on the outcomes.