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Mind the Gap - IT and Marketing Alignment

 In Part 1 of this series on Marketing and IT alignment, How IT Can Break Down Barriers to Digital Agility, we discussed how marketing perceives its biggest barrier to digital agility being IT Infrastructure. In Part 2 of this three part series we address how IT can better support the data needs of the marketing team to build the solutions they require to drive the business. And, how IT can get involved earlier in the solutions requirement process to build better collaboration.

Saying that the Marketing departments are the true holders of the Digital Strategy seems to now be a cliché. Nevertheless it's just a fact. And it is fundamentally justified while considering most of the internal business processes of companies. The top objective of Marketing and Sales departments is to better understand the customer universe, the typology of the clients, the purchasing drivers, etc. They need more detailed and segmented data to provide commercial and sales services with the required tools that will facilitate and develop the business.

For many years now, the solution providers have promoted the advantages of a host of new marketing technologies including cloud solutions and the competitive potential of Big Data, etc. For quite a while the media (even mainstream) has covered the benefits of these technologies. But this doesn’t mean business owners fully understand what it is all about and is why a deeper communication between departments on these solutions is required.

As was uncovered in the survey-based report CMO insights on the Journey toward Digital Agility, in over 50 percent of companies the CMOs are in charge of the digital strategy and transformation. But they expect and require IT assistance to implement the Strategy (as shown in the graphic).

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But what this graphic is telling us is that we are nowhere near this full collaboration. It is obvious that Marketing wants to collect as much information as possible from multiple sources to better know their clients and sales potential. So marketing is, in most instances, defining the solution requirements AND THEN bringing IT in to implement. But wouldn’t it be better for everyone if Marketing and IT partnered earlier on in the process? Marketing would likely get better support and more complete solutions if they understand what isavailable and how to best capture new data sources?

For many years us IT people are used to storing data, protecting its integrity, and ensuring it’s accessibility and availability to the users.  We have not traditionally invited others to be involved in this process. But in today’s “information driven world, marketing teams are growing more addicted to it to be successful, and like a drug they always want more. Though providing raw data is necessary, it is not sufficient to provide valuable and useable Information, as the concept of Information implies setting up smart correlations between multiple sources and being able to analyze it.

Here is the gap we all need to mind … and our next challenge as IT professionals.

There is no reason to blame our Marketing colleagues who expect much more from us. They are fond of new marketing technologies, which are all required to support their day-to-day activities and business.

Their role is not only to collect as much data as possible but also to let us know how to make it real. This is our chance to strongly leverage the IT partnership with Marketing and Sales. It means we need to closely work with them on formalizing the process of data collection starting from the Data already stored internally and from Data to be collected outside.

It also means that deep data analysis has to be driven and achieved in smart collaboration with the eventual users. Transforming data storage and access in Information Systems requires:

  • A deep understanding of the final objectives (for example: When defining a geographical “shopping” area which could also show the local competition, getting raw addresses of clients is a first step but it needs to followed by the enrichment with other data, a GIS tool, accesses to the CRM and other data stores…)
  • Analysis of the Data stored internally and define which other details need to be added and correlated
  • Which new processes and tools are needed
  • Defining the project plan, milestones and cost

Transforming Data into Information is the very first step of a more global digital move toward agility and flexibility. Clearly, initiating such a project to set up a real Information System will impact the internal business processes, the overall organization and, obviously, will have side effects on the implementation of the business processes, all technical procedures, maintenance, security, access, etc.

It is easy to understand that undertaking digital Marketing transformation to gain agility is a global project (which can be achieved step by step. It is not a “black hole”) which requires full commitment from different departments, strong coordination and partnership between them … to bridge the gap.

So my message is to work more closely with Marketing to define the data and system requirements before new solutions are implemented. This will take education on your part to help them understand what you need so you can better help them get what they need. Everyone benefits.

Please contact me if you have any questions or want to discuss this further, you can email me here.

About Accelent Consulting

Founded in 2001 by Barbara Angius Saxby, Accelent Consulting combines strategic Marketing & Sales leadership, with technology expertise and execution support to accelerate revenue growth and improve marketing effectiveness. We drive business results from the top of the funnel to the bottom line – while helping organizations become more digitally agile to better deliver customer value. Accelent serves a range of companies from startups to blue chips in several verticals with consultants based in the US and Europe. We work on a project, retainer, or interim management basis and serve as your outsourced team help you accelerate projects or programs and quickly scale your resources, up or down, as the business demands. For more information, visit our Website or email us.  

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Written by Pascal Cordebar

Pascal is a Principal Systems Consultant with Accelent based in Paris France. He is a veteran in building digital information systems with over 25 years of experience in IT and enterprise software. He helps companies align their back end systems and existing infrastructure with marketing and sales tools to streamline data flow as part of the digital transformation journey. Pascal has the right blend of business acumen, having run pre-sales and consulting teams, with his deep technical expertise.
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