Marketing is increasingly digital, data-driven, and real-time. As a result, marketing is becoming a fundamental driver of IT purchasing. In fact, a recent study predicts that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.
As the marketing department continues to embrace new technologies, there is a growing need to work seamlessly with the IT department to implement and manage the technology stack. So how does marketing work collaboratively with IT? First, we need to understand the evolving role of the IT Department.
The New Role of The IT Department
Traditionally, corporate IT teams built and managed on-premise IT infrastructure – a complicated network of physical hardware and software responsible for powering things like your corporate email, phone systems, or business applications like Customer Relationship Management.
Maintaining on-premise infrastructure required frequent maintenance. As a result, IT teams often did not have enough resources to handle additional projects. From the marketers point of view, the IT department sometimes seemed like more of a roadblock than a helpful internal resource. Indeed, many marketers still hold a grudge towards the IT department, preferring to work around them to avoid potential slowdowns.
The advent of software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud-based platforms has transformed the role of the corporate IT department. Instead of building and maintaining on-premise systems to deliver commodity infrastructure and applications, the IT team can now focus on solution evaluation, implementation, optimization and innovation that creates competitive advantage for the business.
Regardless of the product or service your organization provides, in today’s digital business environment you are really competing in the information business. The accuracy, speed and precision of IT systems means the difference between winning and losing customers, being able to accurately measure marketing’s revenue contribution and forecast future business growth.
Given the changing role of the IT Department, here are three ways that you can ensure they're playing nicely with your marketing department:
1) Work With IT to Establish Single View of Customer
Today, brands frequently engage with customers through a variety of channels (both online and offline). It is increasingly important to have systems in place that facilitate consistent customer experience across multiple channels. To do so, organizations need to adopt a single view of customer.
The single view of customer provides a consistent record of all interactions between a brand and a customer. This includes detailed customer profiles, social media interactions, phone calls, live chat transcripts, shipping information, past purchase information, or any relevant customer data.
Single view of customer is the starting point for proactive communication and outreach to a customer, leveraging the existing knowledge about the customer to deliver better service and increased sales. While a large part of achieving single view of customer relies on business processes, it is enabled by technology.
Integrating various business applications allows customer data to be shared across platforms and provides everyone within an organization a snapshot of each customers information. Think about the impact access to customer data can have on marketing strategy, sales discussions or providing accurate customer service. It isn’t difficult to image the chaos that would ensue if each department was working from independent systems.
From a marketers point of view, the more lead and customer data the better. Marketers have no shortage of ideas for different ways to segment data and deliver more target messaging. As people engage with your brand on numerous channels marketers need to capture each interaction and identity signals that help you nurture those leads through the customer lifecycle.
Without a single view of customer the marketing department might not even know that a lead has turned into a paying customer. In this case, the marketing department might continue to send pre-sales marketing messaging intended to nurture that person into a customer - which they have already become. This is not a delightful customer experience.
Similarly, the sales and customer service teams needs to be armed with the data gathered from marketing activities. Customer service expectations have never been higher. Today’s customers expect to have access your sales and customer support representatives by telephone, email, live chat and social media.
Not only do customers expect multi-channel customer support, they expect that the experience will be consistent and delightful across each channel. To provide multi-channel sales and customer support it is crucial for every stakeholder within the organization to have access to a complete record of customer interactions.
2) Engage with IT to Evaluate and Select Marketing Applications
Achieving single view of customer requires strategic evaluation and selection of applications that will work seamlessly within the existing business system. When the marketing department evaluates a new technology they likely focus on the application’s functionality, how it will improve the results of their marketing efforts, and provide measurable ROI. Members of the IT department are focused on an entirely different, but equally important set of criteria – data security, integration, reliability, and control.
As the marketing department continues to adopt new business applications the IT department plays an ever-crucial role vetting new marketing technologies. During the solution evaluation process the IT department plays an important role in the:
Evaluation of platform integration
How data will be synchronized between applications
Custom API integration
Accessibility to import and export data from the application
How the new solution will integrate with existing business platforms
Evaluation of data control and security
How data is encrypted
How credible and reliable the application is
Ensuring the service meets any industry security compliance regulations
Understand the ownership of data that will be connected with third party applications
Ensuring the application can scale with the future requirements
Data backup and disaster recovery
Marketers need to evaluate both the features and benefits of using applications, as well as identifying an technical implications. Strategic evaluation and selection of marketing applications can sometimes feel like a roadblock but the downstream effects can be profound.
To achieve single view of customer no application can silo customer data. Every business application needs to have the ability to integrate and synchronize with the master customer data set.
Some cloud based marketing applications can be deployed relatively quickly, often with little-to-no technical skills required to get the basic off-the-shelf features running. This self-serve model sometimes creates a false preconception that all cloud based business applications will be easy to deploy and will be simple to integrate with existing business systems, however this is simply not the case for most enterprise level applications.
Before the marketing team implements a new application they should consult with the IT department and understand how the application will be integrated with existing business systems and how the application’s data will contribute to the single view of customer. Some of the considerations pertaining to application implementation and integration include:
Application synchronization - how data will be exchanged between various business applications
Ability to build custom integration via public APIs if necessary
Data migration - how existing data will be moved to the newly implemented application
Mobile roll out strategy - how the organization will deliver this application on mobile devices
Integration with SSO - how the application will integrate with single-sign-on systems
Who will have access (how much permission) to the application
How the application will be supported by the IT team
Members of the IT department are accustomed to planning for data migration, aligning business processes, and ensuring that accurate data is available in the right place, at the right time. Leveraging the IT departments expertise can significantly improve your ability to distill the most relevant business data from a sometimes overwhelming influx of customer information.
Marketers now have access to a plethora of technology, customer data and communication channels. With CMOs on pace to outspend CIOs on technology by 2017 the importance of aligning IT and marketing is rather evident. To manage the ever growing marketing technology stack organizations need to strengthen the working relationship between marketing and IT.
Organizations that align their business processes and IT strategy to become a customer-centric organization are positioning themselves for success. The bar is set very high, consumers now expect a delightful customer experience from every brand no matter if they are buying kitchen soap, or enterprise software.
Originally published Jan 6, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016