Marketing IT to Marketing…

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Major analysts from Gartner and Forrester are predicting lots of spend driven by the CMO over the next few years – even with some bold predictions that CMO’s may outspend the CIO on technology in 5 years from now. I think that may be a real possibility given the growth of data, systems and demands to be more customer centric for most organizations.  But one of the big problems this is going to bring is that the typical divide between enterprise IT and business units such as marketing is still glaring. IT is focused on being cost effective, managing services without risk and trying to ensure commonality and standards across the organization. Marketing just wants to get their work done…

With that, some have been arguing for the creation of the CMTO or CMIO (Chief Marketing Information or Technology Officer). I’ve voiced concerns about this in the past because I believe it creates shadow IT that often results in long term disaster for short term gain. Mary Shacklett at Computer World wrote a nice article that outlines 4 tips for better aligning these groups, which I’d like to highlight here:

1. Consider your organizational structure. This is dead on, for some reason people that are espousing the CMTO/CMIO role just flat assumes that marketing and IT need to be completely separate groups. Why is that? I like the idea of dedicated IT resources reporting into a business unit, and I think it’s more likely to result in cooperation between long term IT thinkers (such as the CIO or enterprise architecture) and the business than many alternatives.

2. Get ready to collaborate. I think this advice needs to be followed more broadly than just marketing and IT as it is critical. I’ve rarely met a professional technologist who doesn’t care about the business – they just often lack the education and experience to understand what business users are trying to accomplish. Why not bring the conversation into the area of shared objectives? As IT should be aware of the critical need for agility and flexibility in running digital and direct mail campaigns, marketing also needs to understand IT’s concerns about security, performance and costs.

3. Hang on to vendor management. I’ve seen this time and time again. The CMO, the CFO or someone else in the organization picking and negotiating with vendors thinking that they did a nice job selecting the right tools and getting a great price. WRONG! IT is the master of vendor management, understands how to pit players against each other, can reach out into a network to find REAL pricing, understand how the game is played and can leverage larger sales opportunities. This is a core competency of IT – let them do it!

4. Be prepared to compromise. I think that if you do #2 correctly (be prepared to collaborate), this just follows. You understand each others needs, strengths and weakness – so you work to let the right party make the right decision.

Overall, I like the points that Mary makes, but I think she is also being fairly tactical in her thinking. There is going to be large growth here, and both IT and marketing need to start pulling together detailed strategies on how they are going to fully enhance their customer centric thinking. They need to then work on organization and process to make it all work successfully. There are going to be some significant dollars invested here, and this should start as a collaboration between the CMO and CIO with buy-in from the rest of the executive team.

What do you think?

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