Four Steps to Improve Your Marketing Technology Partnership in 2017

Develop a Marketing and Technology Partnership to Help Achieve Your Digital Goals

At times, the working relationship between the CIO and the CMO can seem a bit like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. They just look at the world differently.

Marketing is increasingly being asked to create brand new digital capabilities and lead digital initiatives, but they may not appreciate the complexity or implications of introducing a new digital product or vendor into the organization.

IT is responsible for maintaining the integrity of systems for the organization. But IT often lacks understanding of marketing or the ability to move at newly-required digital speed. And IT may feel threatened by the emergence of digital organizations required to move the business to be more digital.

Add to this the innate personality and behavioral differences between typical marketers and system ‘geeks’ and you have potential for frustration.

marketing and technology

Combining Marketing and Technology Strengths

Digital requires combining the strengths of marketing and technology. IT has the technical skills and has done many of these things before: coordinate the activities of multiple vendors and agencies, build business cases, and manage complex projects. Marketing brings deep understanding of the customer, digital marketing and the industry, plus the creative vision to win.

As a CIO or CMO, you are likely leading efforts to move your organization to further leverage digital capabilities. Often times, this is without a clear digital strategy or clear lines of responsibility for digital. Lacking these things, you’re doing the best you can, but it can be tough and frustrating at times.

Engaging leadership to establish a digital strategy that supports your business objectives can be a great catalyst to align these two perspectives. Whether or not that’s something your organization is ready for, here are four steps you can take in 2017 to help improve the relationship between marketing and IT professionals:

Four Steps to Improve Marketing and IT Relationship

Step 1: Create communication lines between marketing and technology.

The lines need to be open at two levels: CIO to CMO and IT to Marketing departments. The first step is to agree there is an opportunity (or problem). Sometimes there’s little to no communication happening – or there’s not enough shared understanding of each other’s perspectives and objectives. Depending on the situation, some things that can help:

  • Use a behavior or personality model (DiSC, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, etc.) and do a joint session with marketing and technology teams to understand their diverse perspectives. By hosting a session with the stated goal of improving partnership and communication, you send a clear message.
  • Lead brown bag or special topic discussions at staff meetings. Ask staff members to prepare short topics the educate the other department. IT may educate marketing on project management basics or key platform initiatives to consolidate customer data.  Marketing can share current trends to educate IT on what marketing is all about.
  • Another version of this would be to host one-on-one education sessions between executives. For example, the CMO would spend an hour educating the CIO on the basics of paid media. The CIO would then share the highlights with her staff at their next staff meeting.
  • Name liaisons or relationship managers to sit on each other’s staffs. This keeps the lines of communication open and allows the individual to start to truly understand the other function – and take that back to their department

Step 2: Seed your team with players who can build knowledge, understanding and skills from within.

This one requires thoughtful recruiting and finding the right fit for your team. Possibilities for this include:

  • Hire an individual with a marketing background to be an analyst on your IT staff. Pick someone who has hands-on experience working with marketing technologies.
  • Transfer a technology department analyst who loves data or has an interest in Google Analytics or another key marketing technology. Make it a six-month rotation for a key project, or a permanent position.

Step 3: Develop a shared vision and roadmap.

Short of doing a full digital strategy, start with joint IT/marketing/business sessions to define the goals or vision of a key initiative and then build a joint multi-year plan to get there.

  • Start with a customer journey mapping session to document a shared future customer experience.
  • Identify the customer-facing, back office and technology (both functional and infrastructure) components.
  • If appropriate, create a platform roadmap so IT can help evolve legacy and new marketing systems over time.
  • Outline the skills and capabilities you will need from IT and marketing.
  • Plan the roadmap of projects and the team that will deliver it together. Make sure to include some quick wins.

Step 4: Formalize the digital governance process or boundaries.

If roles and responsibilities between marketing and IT are confusing or causing inefficiencies, hurt feelings or fits and starts, then take the time to define the digital development or digital management governance model. From simple to comprehensive, possible approaches include:

  • Agree to document key roles and responsibilities. Set the boundaries for accountability. Where’s the line between technology and digital marketing in your organization? Agree to document who owns what. Some potential tools to document your model: RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) charts or process charts.
  • Establish a digital steering committee and host regular meetings to set and guide your digital agenda and priorities.
  • Adopt or create a basic process to guide approval and management of digital projects.
  • Implement a separate ‘fast-speed engine’ that includes process, cross-functional organization and governance to conduct digital projects.

As the CIO or CMO, this is your leadership opportunity. Start by engaging with your digital partner to discuss how it’s working today, what your frustrations are and how you can help make it better. Reach out today!

Go Further

  • Visit our Digital Consulting Services page to learn more about how Centric can help an organization refine or accelerate their digital efforts by bringing together the marketing and IT camps. Some examples include:
    • Seed a development team to establish agile practices and methods and coaching the joint business and IT team.
    • Creat governance and/or development practices to manage a mobile or digital portfolio or product.
    • Conduct customer journey mapping sessions to identify a vision for a future customer experience that informs a digital program.
    • Facilitate the creation of a digital strategy and roadmap.
    • Design a digital marketing campaign and implement the marketing automation technologies and processes to support it.
  • Read the Blog Series: Ten Key Components of a Digitial Strategy.

John Zink, Digital Strategy, Skills & Resources, Project Methodologies, Leadership

John Zink is the Digital Strategy Practice Lead for Centric Consulting, responsible for client engagements, project methodologies and practices. He is passionate about aligning Digital Strategy with the overall business objectives and helping clients deliver change by leveraging enabling digital technologies.

John spent 13 years with a Big 4 Consulting firm and over 15 years in IT and Financial Service operations executive leadership positions. His experience in living on both sides of the business operations and technology spectrum in organizations provides him with a unique perspective that bridges the often too-wide gap in how these stakeholders look at their businesses and digital opportunities.

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