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.

7 responses to “A Marketing Technology Office…The next fad?”

  1. […] Eric D. Brown has some interesting thoughts around a video he recently saw about Marketing Technologists. While I agree that it’s important for marketing and IT to work together for the betterment of their organizations as a whole, I don’t think the marketing technology trend is merely a fad. It could look that way if the power grabbing Eric describes happens, and there isn’t true cooperation between groups within any organization. Read, and see what you think: A Marketing Technology Office…The next fad? […]

  2. […] 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 […]

  3. Kim Farwell Avatar

    Very interesting article – one thing I would add that I’ve observed, is that marketing knows how technology works functionally (i.e. running websites), however they are not experienced in applying technology as a business solution.
    If they don’t approach owning technology as a solution – then I agree that the Marketing Technology office runs the risk of being a fad…..

    1. Eric D. Brown Avatar

      Hi Kim –

      I agree wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Scott Brinker Avatar

    Hi, Eric.

    I agree and disagree! 🙂

    I completely agree that a marketing technology team in the marketing department is not something to be undertaken lightly. It’s a big commitment, it requires the right people — a unique tech/marketing hybrid that’s still quite rare today (although more are emerging) — and it requires significant changes to how marketing is managed to be successful.

    I do think such a major organizational restructuring should be done in partnership with the IT department, if for no other reason than to clarify who is doing what and what “rules of the road” for corporate-wide governance apply.

    However, if it’s done properly, I think the marketing technology team can be more than just a liaison to IT — they can be the folks actually designing, implementing, purchasing, configuring, integrating, operating, maintaining, etc., the far majority of the growing stack of marketing technologies. They’re bona fide technologists, but they’re 100% dedicated to the marketing mission — there’s certainly more than enough work to keep them busy for the foreseeable future. In their best incarnation, they fuse marketing thinking into technology design and operations.

    I’ll be the first to acknowledge that such a structure is not the only option. But in my humble opinion, given the direction that marketing is going — where it will continue to be more and more of a technologically-powered endeavor, with the technology and the marketing ever more entwined — I think it can be the most effective structure.

    But only if it’s done right.

    As always, a fan of yours.

    1. Eric D. Brown Avatar

      Hey Scott – Thanks for stopping by!

      Love your analysis here. That last line is key….”if its done right”. That’s my argument too. If approached correctly with proper planning and buy-in on all sides, this can work and work well.

      Its all about the plan and approach.