The partnership between IT and marketing is continually evolving, making it difficult to pinpoint well-defined roles for the two organizations. Is marketing meant to execute on IT strategy with IT taking the reins over building the martech stack? Or is IT more an enabler of a vision and strategy set by marketing?
Figuring out the interplay becomes important with the stakes becoming higher for marketing to deliver a personalized customer experience (CX) that will ultimately drive revenue and profits. Consider, for example, a Redpoint survey conducted with Dynata, where 70 percent of consumers said that they will only shop with brands that personally understand them. The imperative to compete on CX helps explain why spending on marketing as a share of companies’ overall budgets rose to 12.6 percent in May, 2020 according to the CMO Survey from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. That number, and the 11.4 percent spend on marketing as a percentage of company revenue, are all-time highs since the CMO Survey started tracking the percentages in 2008.
Do More with Less: IT as an Enabler
With marketing budgets on the rise to try to meet or exceed customer expectations for a personalized CX, it is more important than ever for marketing and IT to work hand in glove to deliver optimal results. Whichever department is ultimately credited with success matters less than ensuring both are on the same page. Each makes the other look successful when there is mutual understanding of goals, and a firm grasp of the role each plays in setting and accelerating a strategy to accomplish those goals.
Because marketing is now one of the biggest consumers of IT, it goes without saying that marketing should not view technology as a hindrance or a roadblock for reaching profit goals. However, many marketing organizations have traditionally proceeded on a path that took them from consuming IT services, to jumping into the SaaS world, to now being off on an island apart from the rest of the company, relatively unsupported. For many, that path has led to a patchwork of overlapping point solutions that may each solve for a specific use case, but for the most part create unnecessary complexity. It is not uncommon, for example, for an enterprise to stitch together several solutions to drive web personalization, which end up creating a worse experience for consumers than if there was no tool at all.
To escape this loop of adding more complexity, marketing must rebuild a new partnership with IT – looking toward IT to help understand what each tool is capable of, and using that knowledge to streamline execution of an overall strategy. Marketers need to recognize that the organization will drive better efficiency with fewer tools that accomplish more through integration. They may not necessarily have to understand the full depth of the technology in play, but they do need a base understanding of what they want to achieve with their tools before going to IT for help executing on strategy and use cases.
An examination of what is necessary for achieving a desired business use case versus what is just getting in the way will also include a look at developers, suppliers and whatever manual tools and processes are employed to achieve a specific use case. In short, understanding what may be conspiring to impede a strategy is the first step toward removing those roadblocks. An operational review will expose inefficiencies, redundancies and gaps in an infrastructure.
With a better understanding of a martech stack’s configuration, marketing can then task IT with enabling the overarching strategy. As a partner with a modern marketing organization, IT can help streamline execution of the strategy by bringing all the pieces together instead of going point-by-point. Bringing in IT as a true partner and enabler of marketing strategy achieves additional benefits, including a more secure infrastructure by ceding more control. With IT handling security, infrastructure and functionality, marketing is stripped of many day-to-day operational concerns and is instead free to focus on strategy – focusing more on how to use a more functional martech stack to deliver on customers’ CX expectations. This more modern type of partnership allows IT to be successful on behalf of the marketing team, enhancing its value in the eyes of business stakeholders while also making life easier for marketers who now have the right access to the right data and are plugged into the right channels for driving a personalized customer experience.
A More Useful Technical Footprint
A more streamlined, more efficient footprint does not mean that IT in this newfound partnership with marketing is going to come in and rip everything up, essentially starting from scratch. There will always be multiple channels to deliver through, multiple data sources to integrate with, legacy systems, etc. To borrow a football analogy, drawing up even a simple play will still have multiple X’s and O’s. But a true understanding of the martech stack entails an understanding of each solution’s purpose – and knowing that the various tools and applications are not operating in isolation.
According to the CMO Council, however, 44 percent of marketing teams have spent more than 25 percent of their budget to “rip and replace” engagement systems. This speaks to the importance of an open garden approach for customer engagement technology when IT and marketing form a new partnership to execute on a shared strategy.
A customer data platform with an open garden approach, such as the Redpoint rgOne platform, consists of tightly integrated core technology architected specifically for flexibility, integration and interoperability – as opposed to a walled garden defined by a collection of distinct technologies. An open garden architecture supports the evolving nature of customer engagement and the imperative to compete on customer experience by connecting with an organization’s existing infrastructure, significantly reducing time to value. By connecting only to what’s needed, companies leave behind superfluous point solutions and achieve a single point of data control by integrating all data into a single view.
An open garden approach mitigates or eliminates many of the common problems associated with a patchwork martech stack, such as an environment where you’re performing a/b testing in three different tools, for example. Or multiple team members each building a rules-based decisioning model in a different tool and then struggling with a prioritization rule. In the end, those problems subvert whatever incremental benefit marketing may have realized from having multiple, overlapping tools cobbled together to solve for one use case.
A thorough housecleaning, though, does not start with technology. Rather, it begins with marketing re-examining its relationship with IT and, if needed, forming a new partnership where each is invested in the other’s success. With brands now competing more on customer experience than price or product, marketing’s top priority is a delivering personalized experiences that drives revenue. The ultimate prize is worth a new approach to IT-marketing teamwork.