In large companies, IT and Marketing are two areas with cultures and mentalities that could scarcely differ more. These differences are partly responsible for the problems that repeatedly arise between these two disciplines. With the current trend towards customer-centered marketing, however, there are signs that this is changing.
Thanks to the increased use of technology and new, highly efficient software, Marketing staff can automatically be supplied with information about customer behavior, and can respond to this in real time. This way, the customer’s experience can be guided from start to finish. Even during their Internet searches, interested users are actively guided and brought into contact with the company. And this process is maintained throughout the sales process and continues with after-sales service. This is the beginning of a lasting customer relationship. Due to these developments in large companies, Marketing and IT departments are working closely together and are gaining a better understanding of one another, enabling them to achieve added value not only for the customer, but for their own companies as well.
Areas of responsibility of IT and Marketing
Marketing is responsible for the company being correctly positioned and not just seen by the target market, but sought after as well. Its work also includes generating leads, which are then brought to a successful conclusion by Sales. However, Marketing also has to be ready to react to changes in the market at any time, and to make the most of any opportunity that arise. These mostly occur unexpectedly, and must be seized immediately. This gives Marketing a vital role in upholding the value added chain, as it actively influences sales success. It is largely driven by creative thinking, fast action and quick results. Marketing is measured by key performance indicators such as range, number of leads, campaign efficiency, brand strength and brand equity. Budgets are apportioned accordingly, to increase market share and power growth.
IT is responsible for running the entire IT infrastructure and applications. It must ensure the security, availability and reliability of systems and data, and also guarantee data integrity. All systems must run in a cost-efficient manner and satisfy the latest requirements of the various company divisions. It treads a fine line between the conflicting priorities of cost pressure, high expectations for reliability and availability and innovation. IT is measured by key performance indicators such as cost, risk, availability, and throughput of projects and tickets.
Only satisfied customers stay customers
In Marketing, the trend is towards customer-driven action, and placing the experiences the customer makes on his customer journey with the company and its products in the foreground. Today, thanks to social media, customers can forge alliances at breathtaking speed, and even turn traditional sellers’ markets into demand-driven ones. This in turn transforms the nature of communication between the company and its customers. Through crowdsourcing, customers are involved in the process of innovation and therefore in development itself. Communication is bidirectional and both sides are on an equal footing. It is now time for large companies to learn what smaller companies have been doing for a long time.
Without technology there can be no communication. Marketing needs the support of IT systems, so that it can supply customers with the desired information at all times. This has long been beyond the reach of a solitary website. The integration of different systems such as CRM, WCMS, Analytics, eCommerce, Feedback and Social Media Management is indispensable and requires an in-depth technological understanding of the various possible solutions. At the same time, however, it also requires an understanding of the benefits that are to be generated for customers and the company itself.
How can Marketing and IT overcome these challenges together? The first step is to define common goals; firstly, a common mission and vision statement. Next, a common strategy must be drawn up, on which basis projects can be defined.
New organisational structures bring new solutions
The Marketing Technology Office (MTO) model enables an integrated and holistic perspective of IT and Marketing. It ensures the stability of the system architecture, an optimum user experience, the acquisition of expertise among internal stakeholders and the definition and implementation of governance. MTOs take on employees who combine technological expertise with marketing expertise – for example, front-end developers, developers specialized in integration, but also marketing specialists with IT skills.
Marketing Technology Offices tend to be organized in the following ways:
- Service Center: Marketing Technology is linked directly to IT and is separate from Marketing
- Support Center: Marketing Technology is linked to Marketing and is separate from IT
- Joint Venture: Marketing Technology is central and distributed equally between IT and Marketing
- Nested: Marketing Technology is nested in Marketing and operates independently of classic internal IT
Options for the positioning of a Marketing Technology Office. Source: Atos Consulting, inspirated by http://chiefmartec.com
A Joint Venture might look like this:
In the blueprint shown above, both organizational units are connected on the strategic level. Their roles vis à vis the customer are categorized as REACH, ACT & ENGAGE and CONVERT.
PLAN (Marketing & Marketing Technology)
Marketing & IT form a dual leadership for this division
Campaigns, online advertising, newsletter
Employs marketing and IT specialists
ACT & ENGAGE
Social media, CRM, CMS, lead management, analytics
Employs marketing and IT specialists
Employs marketing and IT specialists
CREATIVE SERVICES & MARKETING TECHNOLOGY
This division supports the entire customer journey through creative services and technical expertise
Employs art directors, interaction designers, front-end developers, database specialists and others
Marketing Technology-specific infrastructure (software and hardware)
In order to achieve gains in terms of culture and communication as well, it makes sense to bring the specialists from IT and Marketing together and employ the techniques of Business Relationship Management, which uses a structured procedure to optimize the relationship between IT and business. What are the advantages of an organization of this kind? Firstly, this organization can avoid much-feared shadow IT in Marketing; secondly, IT can automatically become part of the strategy definition process within Marketing, making Marketing more fact-based and considerably more efficient. In addition, customers can enjoy relevant content and interaction that is optimized to suit their needs.
So how do we take the first step? One relatively simple approach is for IT to provide Marketing with one or two employees with a penchant for Marketing, to advise Marketing on technological issues and provide assistance with the implementation of projects. Alternatively, however, one could turn to experienced consultants who, as neutral intermediaries, could lay the foundations for a new relationship between Marketing and IT.
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