Our 2023 Customer Engagement Report explores relationships between IT and marketing decision makers in martech purchases. To bring the research to life, we asked two Merklers to share their perspectives on a variety of questions related to martech decisions. Courtney Trudeau, the Tech Strategy Capability Lead, brings the marketing view, while Ankur Jain, the Global Cloud Practice Lead, gives us the IT view. Let’s jump into their experiences to learn how collaboration can help you make more effective martech decisions to drive positive outcomes.
Courtney Trudeau (CT): Martech decisioning between IT and marketing has become extremely important because of two things that have happened historically:
Both of these scenarios lead to wasted time, money, and resources, and don’t do anything to really advance the organization’s tech stack. Brands are seeing that and realizing that partnership and collaboration are key to making martech work – not only to make sure it’s meeting the needs of marketing, but that it’s meeting the needs of the enterprise and producing results that benefit both teams.
Ankur Jain (AJ): I agree, Courtney. When we look at CMOs, their focus on martech is the outcomes, which are often omnichannel experience, digital transformation, and personalization. Those initiatives all hinge on being able to derive insights from the data. But guess who controls the data? IT. IT acquires the data, curates the data, and sanitizes the data to make it available for different business functions. From that perspective, IT collaboration with marketing is very important to provide the right data and choose the underlying platforms and technology on which all these initiatives sit. Teamwork is definitely necessary.
AJ: The collaboration was always there, but I think it is more pronounced now with 58% of organizations holding both IT and marketing responsible for new martech purchases. Everything is now cloud based and marketing is using customer data platforms (CDPs), which are SaaS based — so now there’s an environment where marketing needs IT to provide the data for them to use and consume. That’s how the collaboration is evolving from my viewpoint.
CT: I agree with you, Ankur. As we see the shift to cloud, we’re also seeing a merging of skill sets. More marketing folks have technical expertise, so they understand what they’re asking for and what they need. On the flip side, more CIOs and CTOs are tuned in or have specific product teams dedicated to marketing that better understand those needs so these two teams can collaborate more effectively.
AJ: One other point – the pandemic also played a huge role. That shift showed that old martech stacks were no longer working because everyone needed to provide digital access to their services and products. Brands realized that antiquated ways of reaching out to customers – whether that was a lack of ecommerce capabilities or lack of personalization – weren’t working and they needed to up their game and drive digital transformation. So that also played a huge role in bringing IT together with marketing to evolve the business.
CT: Trick question! Always. From the beginning, they should be regularly in touch to understand what’s happening in each other’s worlds.
AJ: Yes – all along. There’s not a specific point in time we can say this engagement starts. It should be happening from conceptualization through execution. Collaboration is very important as the business figures out use cases and translates them to data needs, technology needs, platform needs, and skill set needs.
Collaboration between governance, marketing, and IT is also important – what are the use cases we should prioritize and how do we align on data definitions? These aren’t things you work together on at one point in time; they’re ongoing conversations. Even after the solution goes into production, it poses brand new challenges. Collaboration needs to be evergreen to keep the business going.
CT: Yeah. The only thing I’ll add is that in technology, you’re never done. It’s always an agile, cyclical, improving approach. That’s the type of relationship that needs to be built between marketing and IT.
CT: As far as higher-level best practices, I think having a dedicated team or product owners on the IT side who understand the business and different technologies helps make things more efficient and run smoothly. Similarly, on the marketing side it’s great having dedicated technical leadership, whether that’s someone that owns the martech stack or different products and marketing needs. Having those two teams collaborate and bring the two points of view to the table is valuable.
AJ: Yeah, I agree. What we’ve seen in big, mature organizations is product owners who are the liaison between IT and marketing. They work with marketing stakeholders to understand the priorities, the roadmap, and the multiyear plan to then identify which tools and technologies are needed. They speak the languages of both marketing and IT to serve as a bridge – looking at the business outcomes and what martech will actually create them. We see that work really well for brands to provide the right direction and uncover where they actually need help.
CT: One of the biggest challenges is the prioritization exercise. Marketing might prioritize functionality or capabilities different than IT does. We often think of prioritization in terms of impact and effort – and so marketing might see a project that they believe will make a huge impact and seems like an easy lift, but in reality it’s a complex project and other initiatives might have a bigger impact. This is where you see the most challenges. Overcoming them becomes an exercise in planning and scoring, where everyone’s involved to accurately weigh what tech needs to be purchased or what capabilities must be enabled for marketing and IT.
AJ: Absolutely. The biggest challenge is misalignment in priorities before the organization even engages vendors. Then IT might put on the brakes, or marketing might decide to buy certain technology in a silo, which creates a whole new set of challenges – the wrong functionality, gaps in functionality, technical debt, etc.
AJ: This is a real challenge - only 61% of IT and marketing professionals believe marketing priorities are actually translated to IT initiatives. This is where the liaison role we talked about earlier really comes into play – having product owners who sit between the two teams and can build consensus around data definitions, needs, priorities, etc. Data governance is also a big piece. The business needs a common set of KPIs with a common set of definitions, including how those KPIs are computed, the datasets behind them, and the business rules that go into making those calculations. A data steward can help translate those things across IT and marketing to find common language.
CT: Yeah. I think we’re seeing a bit of an evolution here. Marketing and IT are measured differently from an organizational standpoint – marketing may be more concerned with driving revenue while IT, as a cost center, has a different set of KPI goals. We’re starting to see more organizations come together to create a similar set of KPIs so that both teams can measure martech success in a similar way.
CT: Build a roadmap.
AJ: And make it use case driven.
CT: One of the biggest challenges from marketing is a struggle to define and communicate their use cases – OK, so you want marketing automation, but what does that mean? I think doing these two things together (a use case-driven roadmap) really can make a huge impact.
Want more insights on martech collaboration? Check out the full 2023 Customer Engagement Report for critical trends, recommendations, and more.