Revisiting the Marketing Technology Office

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

My post last week titled A Marketing Technology Office…the next fad? got some interesting feedback via email and my contact form….funny that these same people didn’t leave a comment on the blog for the whole world to see. 🙂

Rather than respond in private to those emails, I’ll respond in public here via a Point/Counterpoint approach with their comments being the “point” and my response being a “counterpoint”.

Point #1:  Marketing should own technology

I received a few comments around the fact that the Marketing team should own and will own all their technology and  the IT group will not and should not have anything to do with this technology.

Counterpoint #1:  Since when did marketing want to be IT Operations?

99.9% of Marketing professionals have no clue how  much work goes into keeping technology running. Its what takes up most of the time for IT Professionals. Its the part of an IT Pro’s job that they get zero respect or recognition for….but its one of the most important.

Additionally, IT professionals have a great deal of knowledge and experience in the technology selection process.  They know what to look for and what to focus on to ensure proper security, integration and stability.

If you, as a marketer, want to grow your own team to 3 times its size and hire IT professionals to manage your technology operations, have at it…but I think its a horrible use of budget. Let the IT pro’s do what they do best.

Point #2: IT Takes too long to do anything…we should just bypass them

This was another main point from these emailers.  Phooey on this point I say. Its an argument that everyone uses when they really have no clue what they are talking about.

CounterPoint #2: IT takes a long time to do something because what they do is complex.

Have you asked IT why it takes so long to do anything?  Have you spent time walking through a technology selection process? Or…have you sat down with IT and saw just how difficult their job really is?  Have you talked to the IT leadership about getting a better process for your team when you make a request?  I’m sure the answer is yes…but if you are still finding that IT is taking ‘too long’, then there’s a bigger issue to be dealt with then just Marketing Technology.

Point #3: IT doesn’t understand Marketing, therefore Marketing needs to be in control.

This was the biggest complaint I read in the emails on the subject….and the most inept complaint as well.

Counterpoint #3: Marketing doesn’t understand IT, therefore IT needs to be in control.

How do you like that? Kind of a stupid counterpoint, no?   Each group is different. Each group does different things.  If neither group understand the other, why aren’t both groups sitting down at a table and digging into the real underlying issues?

Final Comment on the subject:

Let me make something clear.The Marketing Technology Office (MTO) is a great idea, if executed correctly.  This type of office will allow the marketing team to focus on technology while allowing the IT team to focus on operating said technology.

The MTO can be thought of as a Project Management Office (PMO). Some companies have wonderful PMO’s, some have horrendous PMO’s.  Most most have average PMO’s that are effective but not really driving any real value.   The same can be said of the MTO’s that pop up over the next few years.

An MTO that steps out in front and leads while working hand-in-hand with IT will be amazing. The MTO that tries to lead without IT will be a waste of money and time.

Image Credit: WhatCounts Travel Email Webinar Logo on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

A Marketing Technology Office…The next fad?

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

John Dodge posted a video over on the Enterprise CIO Forum titled “Enter the chief marketing technology officer” that highlights the importance of the role of ‘marketing technology’…and more importantly the role of the marketing technologist.

In the video John points to recent stories, discussions and ideas floating around the CIO world about how the every increasing role that marketing technology plays within the enterprise.

Now…this is nothing new to anyone that’s read this blog for a while as I’ve been harping on the subject of the intersection of marketing and IT for a few years.  Scott Brinker has been writing about the topic for far longer than I and arguably has helped bring the term “marketing technologist” to be a widely used term.

It appears that people within the organizations are starting to see the importance of having the marketing team own much more of the technology role.   I’m also seeing many ‘consulting’ companies starting to talk about “marketing technologists” as well. For example,  a Forester analyst recently gave a talk whereby an argument was made that marketing departments should begin “selling the idea of a Marketing Technology office to the CIO“.

While I’m happy to see this excitement for a topic I’ve been writing about for years, I’m also a bit leery of that excitement.  I’m leery because there will be many marketing departments out there who will see this as an opportunity to ‘grab power’ rather than approach it with from a logical mindset to ensure that whatever is done is in the best interests of the organization as a whole.

I think back to previous ‘fads’ within the technology world and can see this same thing playing out.  I think about the role of technology in finance and how many finance groups where told to start a ‘finance technology’ office.  I think about the role of technology in HR and thing about the many HR IT groups I’ve run across.  I think about the introduction of e-commerce into many organizations and how sales teams felt empowered to ‘own’ technology and run their e-commerce systems.

In the majority of the above examples, at least in my experience, the ‘newness’ wore off quickly and the finance/HR/sales/etc groups quickly realized how difficult it is to actually “run” technology.   Many quickly sidestepped the technology question and asked for help from the professionals in IT….and of course it was left to the IT Pro’s to come in and clean things up.

Now…some folks out there will say “this time is different”.  Marketing can ‘own’ its own technology. Marketing has been running websites for years.  Well…not really.  Marketing has been putting content on websites for years. IT Professionals have been ‘running websites’.

Also..its never different.  At least without some honest-to-god planning and strategic thought.

You may be thinking I’m a hypocrite since I’ve been talking about Marketing Technology and the role of marketing in the future of technology….and now I’m saying its a fad.   But…I’m not a hypocrite…I’ve never said marketing technologists should run technology in a vacuum.  I’ve always pushed for the merger of Marketing and IT.  I’ve always pushed for a partnership between the two groups.

This partnership has to be a strong one.  The marketing team must drive requirements and they must drive the vision. The IT group must drive the technological integration, security and operations.  Take this approach and the issue of a ‘fad’ is no longer an issue.  Don’t take it and the Marketing Technology Office will quickly be dismantled due to the same problems found in previous “technology offices” found in previous years.

So…yes…the Marketing Technology office is a fad…unless both the IT and Marketing groups can start from scratch with a proper plan and proper teamwork. Then…you’ve got a chance at making the much-needed marketing technology office a long-term part of the organization.

Image Credit: FAD by By boskizzi on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Will marketing continue to grow their share of the technology budget?

marketing technology budget

marketing technology budgetIf you are involved with marketing and/or technology in any large organization, you most likely are hearing a lot about marketing technology (MarTech) and the ‘explosion’ of MarTech people, technology, projects….and budgets. There are some folks out there who claim that within a few years, marketing will be spending more on IT than the CIO but many IT professionals I speak with just have a hard time accepting that marketing will ever drive more spend on tech than IT does/will.

My response to these folks is simple: It is already here.

Let’s take a second to think about some of the higher priority items for the IT group. According to the 2016 State of the CIO report from IDG, the top 3 priority items for CIO’s in the coming year are:

  • Complete a major enterprise project
  • Help reach a specific goal for corporate growth
  • Upgrade IT security

Those first two items are pretty broad and specific to each organization, but they could easily relate to MarTech projects. For the last item on IT security upgrades, the report says that about 12% of the IT budget will be spent on upgrading IT security (which seems low to me, but I’m not as close to security as I am to other parts of IT).

Another nice little nugget of knowledge from the 2016 State of the CIO report is the following:

57% of the total dollars invested in tech is now directly controlled by IT (and is expected to grow to 59% in the next 3 years).

One thing to notice with this particular stat – while the majority of budget is controlled by IT, there’s no real detail in the report on where or how that money is spent other than to say that 33% of marketing’s budget is currently set aside for technology.

All the numbers and data points mean very little without some context, which is what many IT professionals (and non-marketing people) lack.  The spend on MarTech five years ago was generally small. Marketing groups would spend money on content management systems, web analytics platforms and e-commerce systems but very few were investing money in large, enterprise-level systems. That has changed in most medium to large organizations. Today, marketing organizations are spending money are those enterprise systems because they now understand how important an integrated, enterprise platform can be for driving engagement and revenue.

Will marketing continue to grow their technology budget? I think so.  Will IT professionals continue to complain about that? Probably….but the majority will realize how important MarTech spend is to the future of the organization.

Agile Marketing Based on Analytical Data Insights: Improving Scrum Tactics in Brand Outreach

This post is written by Mathias Lanni (Executive VP, Marketing – Velocidi).

Agile management and scrum-style techniques have long been accepted in fields of technology development, but have been increasingly adopted outside the tech industry over the years.  Fundamentally, agile tactics are a way for organizations to more quickly adapt to quickly-changing markets and customer demands, without the slow-to-change hidebound nature of top-down hierarchical organizations impeding change.

Marketing has certainly become fast-changing!   The marketing field has become extremely volatile in the past 10-20 years, with the digital revolution bringing about huge changes in buyer behavior, brand/buyer interactions, as well as basic outreach.

Agencies were already having to deal with client demands which could change rapidly based on customer demands and/or issues with their image.  Now, on top of that, digital marketing is constantly in flux, with massive shifts in strategy consistently happening in response to changes in the search engines as well as the impossible pace of internet/electronic trends.  It’s enough to drive any marketer to reassess their workflow, which is undoubtedly why agile techniques are coming into the field.  The issue is how to introduce scrum-style strategies while also making use of “Big Data” analytics to ensure the best possible decisions are made.

In this blog, we wanted to address a few ways data analytics can be integrated into scrum-style workflows in a marketing management setting, and in particular how they can be utilized to quickly settle questions that may come up due to shifting priorities.

Improved Scrum Marketing Management through Smart Use of Data

We’ll assume readers are familiar with the basics of scrum management.  Rather than go over that, we wanted to address a few specific problem areas relating to Product Owners and Scrum Masters where data analysis can be of the greatest help.

Problem 1 – Sorting Through the Backlog

One of the perennial issues with digital marketing is that there is always more that could possibly be done than even the biggest team could ever achieve.  As an easy example, there are literally dozens of social media networks out there.  Yet even the largest of brands is going to struggle to support more than a handful properly.

So when you have a long backlog of user stories to implement, how do you prioritize?

This is exactly the sort of problem a well-maintained database and analytical system can cut through easily.  By sorting through usage data, customer feedback, focus group comments, and similar information, one can almost always get clear guidance on which user stories would likely be well-received by the target audience(s).  With sufficient data, there is no need for guesswork – you’ll have clear trends indicating the right path.

Of course, this principle also applies to selecting user stories in the first place.  A data-driven outlook will help ensure effective stories are selected, leading to a backlog full of to-do items which all have a high likelihood of paying off.

Problem 2 – Optimizing Your Points and Time Allocation

Historically, one of the biggest issues facing Scrum Masters is properly configuring your sprints.  How many points should be in the sprint, and what time allocation is best?

Don’t forget that big data can be applied to your own processes as well!  A database keeping track of the successes and failures of your own scrums will serve you well, and generally, it only requires a few months’ of data before you can start seeing clear trends.  Allocating points doesn’t have to be a matter of gut and instinct.  You’ll be able to look up exact time spent on similar user stories in the past when determining your time allocations, which in turn gives you clear guidance on point’s allocation.

Of course, this does rely on committing to recording these numbers and doing so consistently.  This small time investment will pay off in the future – and do so with increasing reliability as the months’ pass.

Problem 3 – Crafting Effective Retrospectives

It’s well known that human memory is quite fallible, particularly when under stress.  This can be a problem when it comes time for your monthly retrospective.  How well will people really remember the nitty-gritty of problems faced in the previous month?

Again, this is a problem which can be solved with good data and time tracking throughout the scrum process.  The Scrum Master might even devote some time to reviewing the data logs.  Why did a particular Team Member end up spending twice as much time implementing a User Story than was originally allocated?

They might not remember this event off the top of their head without prompting, but with the data on the table, it’ll be much easier to remember.  Then the information about the problem and its solution can be integrated into the database, and into future decision-making.

Data Can Tie Your Marketing Together

These are just a few examples of how data analytical techniques and scrum-based marketing management can go hand-in-hand.  Data can be the basis for decisions throughout the process and will make the lives of both the Product Owner and the Scrum Master vastly easier.  In most cases, a trip to the database will be able to answer most pressing questions – clearing the roadblock quickly – while the ever-increasing amount of data recorded will help you quickly optimize your scrum processes on a month-by-month basis.


About Mathias Lanni EVP, Marketing – Velocidi

Mathias Lanni has helped some of the world’s leading brands take advantage of new emerging technologies to reach and engage their audiences. Through 20+ years of brand marketing experience Mathias has helped large national advertisers incorporate paid search, display advertising, conversation analytics, social media marketing, social advertising, web & app development into their traditional marketing plans. Before Velocidi, Mathias was a founding member of Edelman Digital, the world’s first global social media agency, where he led global scaling plans for the agency. Mathias currently works with www.velocidi.com 

Is Marketing Really Shortchanging IT?

budget pieI just finished reading Marketing’s New Digital Role Is Shortchanging IT.

The article had a good premise (e.g., IT and Marketing are fighting for budget) but rather than discuss the real reasons for this current predicament, the author obliquely places the blame at the feet of the Marketing group for ‘stealing’ budget from IT. The author claims that Marketing is shortchanging IT by taking budget away from IT initiatives.

While marketing budgets have been growing and IT budgets haven’t generally been on the increase, I’d argue that its the fault of many IT groups and CIO’s for not stepping up and leading organizations over the last few years.

Let’s take a look at a few things from the article. First, the author writes:

This might be all to the good except that the rapid change in marketing roles and skills has come at the expense of the traditional IT organization. More than just a drain or overlap in skills, organizational budgets have shifted rapidly away from IT, leaving the CIO scrambling to support legacy systems that are still necessary and costly to maintain.

The shift to digital in the marketing world has changed the landscape of every organization. Marketing budgets have grown and IT budgets have not (generally).  That’s not a surprise to anyone but I think we in the IT world need to step back and ask why marketing’s budgets for technology solutions have grown.  Is it because marketing and CMO’s are that much smarter than the IT group and CIO’s and know how to tell a good ‘story’ to the CEO to get that budget?  Perhaps it is…but I’d argue that the reason that CMO’s have been driving more technology projects is due to the fact that they (and everyone else in the organization) have tired of the IT group’s focus on operations over innovation.

A few short paragraphs later, the author writes:

…organizational power can’t simply continue to devolve from IT to the marketing department. CIOs and CMOs must meet in the middle. Decades of safe, smart IT practice needs to be applied to the new ways of finding and using data. Only a partnership will allow marketing to be efficient and effective as this revolution continues to unfold.

I can’t argue against the author’s comments here. For long term success, the CMO and CIO must be partners but I do think that partnership has to start with the CIO making the effort to mend any broken relationships they have within the organization. Again, the reason we are where we are today is because most CIO’s haven’t really been helping to drive innovation and business value…they’ve been focused on operations.

The author finishes up the article with this:

What is clear is that something will need to give as this revolution permanently changes the way organizations are structured and how all software, not just marketing tech, is purchased, deployed, and maintained.

Yes. This is clear and it has been happening.

Marketing isn’t shortchanging IT. IT has shortchanged IT. Rather than help lead organizations into the digital world, the IT group has faltered in most companies. It is time for the CIO to come out of the data center and start talking about how technology can help driver new and more efficient products, services and solutions to the organization and the organization’s client base.

As IT professionals, we can’t just keep pointing the finger at the marketing group and complaining that they are ‘taking our jobs’. We should be out front helping to lead those marketing technology initiatives.

The role of IT and the CIO in Marketing

Isaac Sacolick recently wrote a post titled Dear CIO, Here’s How To Help the CMO with Marketing Automation where he talked about the need for CIO’s and CMO’s to work closely together for marketing automation projects.

In that post, he wrote:

…fully achieving “marketing automation” is no where as easy as SalesForce, Microsoft, or Oracle will sell your CMO. There is certainly a lot less coding involved to develop workflows, produce dashboards, or integrate data but some of the same problems exist such as cleaning duplicate/dirty data, developing audit-able workflows, improving the usability of dashboards, crunching large data sets, securing private/financial data, or maintaining master data.

mauMarketing Automation isn’t just about implementing technology to ‘do’ marketing…there are plenty of aspects associated with marketing technology that many people overlook.  You don’t normally just turn on automation tech and ‘set it and forget it’ like many vendors and consultants will try to advise you to do.

Marketing automation, just like every other technology, can bring quite a bit of complexity to an organization.  Many people who haven’t lived in IT and technology don’t / can’t really understand how complex technology can be. After implementation, there is  still a great deal of work to do on the operational side of things, even if you use ‘the cloud’ for your solution(s).

That’s where the CIO and the IT team come into play.  We should be involved as early as possible in any project involving technology to help other teams understand the long-term issues around technology and should be playing more of a consultative role within the organization than we have in the past. The key now is for the CIO to build relationships with other C-level executives and ensure the IT group is involved in any/all technology projects at the outset.

The roles of the CIO and IT group are becoming more consultative rather than purely operational. That’s a good thing.  The CIO and technology professionals can play a much larger role within the marketing team that many currently are. Isaac’s suggestions were spot on…the key now is to make sure the CIO and CMO (and other CxO’s) are having conversations early enough to ensure that the IT group is involved in technology selection projects.