marketing system silosMarketing technology offers a significant competitive advantage when treated as an integrated marketing system. Integrated systems give you the tools to capture user data and follow it from the first touch point to sale, support and the complete customer lifecycle. Integrated marketing systems:

  • Enable a deeper understanding of what works and what doesn’t
  • Create the ability to play what-if games with data
  • Provide pathways to repeatable performance and creation of deliverables in a consistent manner, regardless of geography

So why is it, as indicated in a recent Aberdeen Group study that “90% of marketers have pieces of technology in their overall marketing systems that aren’t connected, or which exist in disparate silos,” teams or departments?

At first glance, the answer appears surprisingly simple:

“A lot of marketing departments were designed 30 years ago and have not adapted to changes in customer preferences, technology, and channels.” – Yvonne Genovese, Gartner Group

The Real Truth
On closer inspection, the answer becomes much more complex.  For years CMOs have seen themselves as advocates for the corporate brand or – if they rose up through the product ranks – the product brand they championed.  As sales and marketing technologies emerged, these brand advocates naturally saw these tools as a way to better execute their craft, not so much as systems that impacted the entire enterprise.

Solutions were often purchased to address specific program needs without considering how these “point solutions” fit into the scalability and growth objectives of the enterprise as a whole.  As a result, years later many organizations are dealing with a marketing technology patchwork that requires specialized skills and continuous reinvestment to manage and use each component effectively.

This “point system” view of technology to get a job done also has led to a mad scramble to somehow kludge these various technologies together to retroactively meet unforeseen systems integration, scale, decision-support and cost reduction objectives.

And then there’s the over-dependency backlash. Even if they have the inclination and ability (and, frankly, many don’t), CMOs are way too busy to stay heavily involved in all the nuances involved in optimizing marketing technology investments.  Solution? Delegate all the heavy lifting (requirements gathering, solution due diligence, selection recommendations, vendor negotiation) to IT partners, in-house gurus, agency partners, technology suppliers or a combination.

But guess who is on the hot seat when low user adoption, poor ROI and a never-ending stream of hidden costs that push total cost of ownership of technology through the roof come under scrutiny by C-teams, boards of directors and even angry shareholder groups contemplating legal action for perceived fiduciary irresponsibility? You got it … the CMO.

Technology Silo Implications
In truth, marketing departments and CMOs are not alone in ignoring antiquated technologies or over delegating operations and technology decisions. Across most organizations, technologies were selected, and information collected, based on how customers were acquired or the business was structured when the technology was installed. These decisions were often made on a department-by-department basis, or to meet the needs of a specific work process within a department.

The result is isolated technology silos spread across the enterprise. With little or no connection between these disparate silos, measurement and use of this information from a broader strategic perspective is impossible in any way that is truly meaningful and actionable.

Aggravating this situation is the accelerating desire to free marketing from being a slave to its IT group’s “waiting list of enterprise-wide high-priority technology initiative. In the quest to unshackle from IT bureaucracy, CMOs have invested heavily in importing technology experts into the marketing function. The irony is, the skyrocketing demands to bring existing sales and marketing technologies current and deploy new technologies to address emerging challenges – such as predictive analytics, mobile marketing and customer experience management, to name just a few – has effectively shifted the problem – and waiting list – from IT to the marketing technology office.

Today an increasing number of marketing organizations have secured larger budgets for IT systems and solutions than the corporate IT group itself. With increasing authority comes increasing responsibility. The opportunity – and associated risk – is higher than ever for CMOs and their marketing teams.

Braving the Change

“In the hands of talented marketing personnel, marketing technology is an amplifier of marketing muscle. When marketing technologies are properly integrated, marketers can reach further, record more data, and move even faster.” – Aberdeen Group

Streamlining and integrating marketing technology into a unified system has the power to move beyond repositioning and re-energizing a company’s marketing function. When carefully thought out and planned as a holistic enterprise-wide solution, marketing technology can help an enterprise deliver unprecedented levels of performance and achievement across all of its operational and customer-centered interactions.

Leveraging the discipline and rewards of an integrated system approach positions marketing to influence strategic decisions and maximize revenue. It allows the enterprise as a whole to eliminate redundancies in its technology stack thereby reducing costs. It creates a platform that can achieve high levels of user adoption and empowerment. This enables the company to maximize resources and act quickly and transparently on new insights and business opportunities.

“Marketing tech is not a magic bullet; you have to transform your team into a digital marketing machine in order to make the most of these new capabilities.” – Gerry Murray, IDC, CMO Advisory

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article: “Thinking Systematically to Solve System Silos”

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