marketing operations definedMarketing Operations definition as proposed updated content for Wikipedia, which would include the History of Marketing Operations and Marketing Operations Defined for Wikipedia, Part II. Please comment below to indicate your approval/suggestions.

The marketing operations (MO) function has emerged due to the need for a more transparent, efficient, and accountable view of marketing. Its growth was initially driven by the proliferation of marketing technology and increased pressure from the C-suite to prove the value of marketing and contribute to the bottom-line. The purpose of marketing operations is to increase marketing efficiency and organizational agility. Agile marketing organizations are able to adapt their marketing efforts, quickly and successfully, in response to changing customer behavior, market conditions and business direction to the benefit of improved market share or customer value.

The scope of responsibilities varies across Marketing Operations teams and so, therefore, does the definition. Typically, Marketing Operations is the function responsible for marketing performance measurement, strategic planning guidance and execution, budgeting, process development, professional development, and marketing systems and data. More and more, this role is responsible for affecting change in the marketing organization. This work typically connects closely to, or includes, demand generation, involves the alignment of Marketing with Sales, Business Units, IT and Finance. MO professionals’ career paths sometimes originate in Finance, IT, Sales Operations and other analytical or process-oriented roles. The MO function enables the marketing organization to shift from being viewed as a cost center and to operate more like a business, with formalized best practices, processes, infrastructure, and reporting.

This injection of left-brain thinking into the typically right-brained-heavy Marketing function has led to the need for Marketers to expand their skill set to include technical and analytical skills in addition to the traditional marketing skills. These include ability to allocate resources based on strategic objectives and demonstrated performance, act as an organizational interface to the parallel role of Sales Operations, reduce the CMO’s administrative requirements, and coordinate and optimize marketing resources.

The rise of the MO function was first observed by analyst firm IDC in its annual Tech Marketing Benchmarks study early in 2005, with industry guidance in the form of a detailed analysis and framework for the staffing requirements and responsibilities for this role’s contribution to the marketing organization. The 2006 IDC CMO Technology Benchmark Study found that the headcount allocated to MO was about 2.5%. This was the first time MO was specified as a stand-alone function in the IDC studies. By the end of the 2011, the allocation of marketing operations staff had more than doubled to 5.3%.

In 2007, the Marketing Performance Management Study by VisionEdge Marketing found that companies were adding MO to the marketing function to help ensure systems, processes, and tools were in place to support marketing performance measurement and management. Also in 2007, the Journey to Marketing Operations Maturity study by Marketing Operations Partners published an MO framework with marketing strategy and guidance supported by ecosystem alignment, leading to marketing processes and metrics supported by technology and infrastructure management. By 2009, other marketing studies began to incorporate questions about MO. The 2009 Lenskold Group/MarketSphere Marketing ROI and Measurement Study found that companies with MO in place were twice (11% vs 5%) as likely to report having highly effective and efficient marketing.

The role of MO is expanding, especially within marketing organizations serving as value creators and agents of change. Within these organizations, MO is moving beyond campaign automation and financial governance to facilitate accountability, alignment, and agility. Some CMOs treat the MO leader as a Chief of Staff. As such, they are often charged with handling communication to the organization and overseeing the training and development of the marketing professionals.

While it is the responsibility of every marketing professional to engage in performance management, MO brings all of the components together to systematically optimize performance.

For more information, see 10 Ways Marketing Operations Creates Value

Part II covers Marketing Technology and Marketing Operations References. We’re proposing that this definition be kept as simple as possible presently, for ease of reading, level-setting, and application during this phase of developing a common outlook in the Marketing Operations profession.