March 19, 2021
Not so long ago, marketers had a saying when trying to acquire MarTech to solve an urgent business need: “Whenever you hear the words ‘RFP,’ an angel loses its wings.’”
RFP, or a request for proposal, meant that IT had gotten involved. Technologists were applying their multi-staged process for software acquisition, which includes RFPs. This also meant marketers probably wouldn’t see their much-needed MarTech for months.
Marketers need to be fast and agile, while IT has a reputation of being slow and methodical. That’s why many marketers at smaller companies began doing stealthy end-runs around IT, while marketers at bigger companies delayed bringing IT into the process until the last possible moment. MarTech vendors started pitching marketers directly, and marketers would buy software as a subscription service out of their opex budget.
But there’s a reason for IT’s due diligence. While MarTech vendors make promising pitches, IT can ask the tough questions, evaluate technical aspects, and punch holes in those pitches. IT also sees the bigger picture, in terms of technology already deployed throughout the company and how everything fits together in a secure and optimal way.
Time and again, marketing’s haphazard approach has led to high software costs, duplicate software, under-utilized software and poor returns on investment. In many cases, marketers making MarTech decisions on their own unknowingly created a “Frankenstack,” an architecture lacking strong integration with enterprise systems and data sources. A Frankenstack also stalls adoption of emerging MarTech — you can’t build on top of what’s broken.
While the dodgy marketing-IT relationship spans decades, the rise of digital marketing now demands a reconciliation.
Simply put, MarTech is just too important for a company to allow this dysfunction to continue. Brands are pinning their hopes on MarTech to help them win and retain customers in a digital-first world, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. Much of the sales action now happens at the top of the funnel where marketers have the most impact.
Nearly 70% of marketers expect to boost spend this year, according to our survey, Getting It Done in 2021. Many are growing their investments in MarTech aimed at leveraging customer data insights, executing campaigns more effectively, optimizing the customer journey, and improving operations and performance.
There’s no question marketers and IT must collaborate better on MarTech to gain a faster time to value and a higher return on investment. But where to start?
Both marketing and IT have to acknowledge that they’re both partly to blame. By now, marketers must know how their go-it-alone strategy leads to failure. IT needs to accept that marketing may be the most valuable function in the company and marketers are under tremendous pressure to compete in a fast-moving environment, yet IT has been hamstringing them.
A meeting of minds allows marketing and IT to begin anew and find innovative ways of working together. For instance, they can stand up a mini-IT team inside of marketing, assign liaisons who have both technical and marketing chops, build cross-functional skills within their respective teams, increase the frequency of collaborative meetings, adopt agile organizational models, hire a chief marketing technology officer, etc.
Each of these new ways has pros and cons, of course, but all are a vast improvement on a dysfunctional relationship. That’s good news for everyone. MarTech can lead to a company knowing its customers better, thus its future may rest on the marketing-IT relationship.
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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