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Where marketing execs are spending all those tech dollars

Lynn Haber | Feb. 22, 2013
Gartner says marketing may spend more on tech than IT, but for what?

Because of the complexity involved, marketing can't do it alone -- it needs IT.

IT's focus is typically on the so-called back-end infrastructure, so companies that have in-house IT integration skills can help marketing meet its complex integration challenges. This, according to Accenture, means providing a unified network and data infrastructure that link data housed across the organization, often in different forms, as well as information held outside the company so they can be tracked and analyzed. As you'd expect, the traditional IT systems vendors -- such as Adobe Systems, BMC, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and SAP -- are working to retune their offerings for the new types of data and customer interactions.

But integrating and modernizing existing information systems will take years because "most large enterprises heavily customize their CRM products or create their own combination of homegrown and package-based solutions," says Chris Davey, global head of customer engagement platforms at the digital marketing consultancy SapientNitro.

IT has historically created the infrastructure for structured data, such as those held in ERP systems and data warehouses, used for financial reporting or to look at past transactions for uncovering changes in customer purchases or comparing projections to reality. But IT has little experience in bringing in data from the outside or from customer touchpoints, such as analyzing website behavior prior to purchase or understanding the behaviors that customers go through before ever coming to a business's website. That's where big data technology comes in, so businesses can get insights from new data sources. As the name "big data" implies, there's a lot of such data, and being able to sift through it in the more exploratory fashion appropriate to marketing analysis requires different technologies and information management skills than IT has typically needed.

Because the information systems that support technology-savvy marketing involve many of the systems that run the day-to-day operations, governance is a critical area that requires attention from multiple business departments. It can't be done by just IT, by just marketing, or by any other single entity.

Technologists across the company need to focus on data protection, ownership, and access of both traditional data sources and the new types of data, such as social, mobile, and, behavioral, now available. Add to the mix the many database marketing companies (such as Epsilon, Experian, First Data, Harte-Hanks, and R.R. Donnelley) that manage captured customer information on behalf of many enterprises. The result is a web of complex -- and evolving -- agreements governing ownership and access among every participant.

The new web of technology relationships in your company

For starters, managing that web requires putting together an internal steering group composed of the marketing chief, CIO, sales and/or e-commerce chief, brand and geography heads, and one or more analytics experts.

 

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