Business Cloud News
Amy King, vice president of product marketing, Evidon

Amy King, vice president of product marketing, Evidon

At the beginning of John Hughes’ classic 1985 movie, The Breakfast Club, five students from vastly different social high school strata meet in detention. At first, they don’t talk to each other, behaving as if they have nothing in common. Over the course of an afternoon, they start to talk about how their school is a codified system where each area is beholden to the concerns of their particular group, conditioned to resent the roles of others and unable to see past their own day to day issues. Remind you of anything at your company?

Articles and studies have lately confirmed that the key to better digital success in 2014 will be for enterprises to address the growing rift between the CMO/CIO – or marketing and technology departments – and the resulting business impact. Before diving into how to solve the “Breakfast Club” within a company problem, I want to take a step back and review why this issue matters.

More and more customer activity and time is spent on digital channels. Not only is eCommerce growing rapidly, but the importance of digital platforms in securing new customers, building their loyalty, and introducing them to new products continues to rise.

For the marketing and technical departments, this means two things: Significant staff, responsibility and structural change are needed to deal with increased expectations as digital becomes more important to overall company goals; and more sophisticated marketing and technical strategies are needed to address new technologies, multiple platforms, and big data resources.

Both of these require more, not less, coordination between marketing and tech, as well as radical redefinitions of the skill sets and knowledge bases required on both sides, particularly in the marketing department.

For tech, as digital efforts gain significance and attention, the spotlight finds they want more of a hand in guiding strategies that impact website performance and operations. A recent article in Loyalty Today found that: “Increased customer demands and the digitisation of everything is forcing CMOs to be more quantitative, accountable, and tech savvy, while CIOs are being forced to really understand business and market drivers – and the impact that data and technology can have in enabling marketers to perform better.”

Unfortunately, the opposite is happening across many organisations. As expectations rise and workloads increase, departments tend to communicate less and resent each other more. Accenture recently studied this issue and found: “Only one in 10 marketing and IT executives say collaboration is at the right level. Despite their growing understanding that they must be more closely aligned, CMOs and CIOs have a trust issue.” They further determined: “Marketing strategy is increasingly focused on how to leverage Big Data. Turning this data into relevant customer experiences at scale is a far cry from past capabilities focused on creative and brand strategies. These new services require a new kind of rigor and a deep technology backbone to enable them.”

Big data and third party technology challenges have only magnified the communication gap. This is particularly due to the fact that when these new systems are adopted – be they analytics tools, cloud systems, or other data providers – it was with the promise that they would solve specific organisational problems. However, it has become apparent that in order for the technologies to deliver on that promise, there are behavioural and process changes that must happen within marketing and tech. For the analytics to work, new collaboration paths need to be created, and managers and executives need to ensure existing processes don’t undermine opportunities.

As change is required due to increased expectation and demand, departments have been slow to respond. How can communication channels be improved, new roles defined, and vendors better managed in order for the departments to collectively create a unified marketing and website strategy?

Successful enterprises are now addressing communication gaps, as well as staff and responsibility changes. Understanding the need to employ individuals who can technically manage third party tags, but also oversee their strategy and business process changes, enterprises are building teams increasingly led by a Chief Marketing Technologist. Over 81% of big firms now have a CMT and this person is a marketing strategist with technical knowledge, similar to a CTO or CIO devoted to marketing. The individual and their team customarily report to marketing, prompting a dialogue around not just getting the answers from data and analytics, but how those answers and analytics align, or conflict, with company processes and behaviours.

On the CIO side, key department leaders are adopting more of a venture capitalist mindset in vendor management and new technology acquisition. When faced with the task of creating a cohesive flow within their complex marketing cloud, CIOs have become more tactical in vendor strategy and how the third parties can function in coordination to best deliver value. While marketing may worry about how analytics need to be understood in light of current company business activity and process, IT needs to focus on transforming the data into a better customer experience – and in order to do so they need more marketing context.

By the end of The Breakfast Club, having been forced to spend a day together, the five students realise their values, concerns and struggles are more aligned than not. Likewise, in our business every single client who has attempted greater coordination between tech and marketing to accomplish better marketing strategy has reported the experience as positive and worthwhile. The work may require some time, disruption to current process and new skills sets, but each contributes to a positive change that will leave everyone better prepared for the rise of digital importance.

By Amy King, vice president of product marketing, Evidon