4 things marketing finds frustrating about IT

CIO Australia talks to several CMOs and marketing experts to get their perspectives on what frustrates marketing when working with IT

The CIO-CMO partnership is one that's on the minds of many CIOs, and is seen to offer great potential. But it’s not always peaches and cream; there are challenges that many are still working through.

According to a 2013 Accenture Interactive report, nine in 10 CIOs and CMOs feel collaboration between them is not effective as it could be. The survey also delved into the frustrations both executives have when working with each other.

CIO Australia talks to several CMOs and marketing experts to get their perspectives on what frustrates marketing when working with IT.

1. IT too slow to respond to marketing’s needs

Jennifer Beck, Gartner VP and Fellow for Marketing Leaders Research Group, says CIOs typically work at “project speed” where they plan for projects months in advance, whereas marketers operate at “customer speed” where they have to be able to respond to situations almost in real time.

“For marketing people who tend to be very much early adopters, if they are not on top of the very next trend and are able to respond quickly to that, then they are pretty much out of the business,” Beck says.

“A great example is the Oreo cookie ad during last year’s Super Bowl half hour [light] blackout. Oreo came through with a tweeted ad ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ which became popular in split seconds. In order to be able to pull that off, the machine behind them was very well greased, very well oiled, very well managed and monitored, and the company was able to react to something in real time.”

When it comes to technology deployments, CIOs tend to go with the approach of ‘perfect before you release’, Beck continues, so that there is minimal chance of failure occurring. This is in opposition to the idea of perfecting as you go, which can be frustrating for CMOs where time to market is everything.

“CIOs really need to get their heads around ‘good enough’. That’s a hard thing for them because failure is not an option; they think in terms of standards and proven solutions. But a marketing person is ready to go with what’s ‘good enough’, as time to market is more important. CIOs don’t think that way; it has to be 120 per cent ruggedised, perfected and flawless before they are willing to implement it.”

Ryan Bonnici, Asia-Pacific head of marketing at Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, says many marketing heads are dealing with IT vendors directly often because the internal IT organisation is not meeting marketing’s demands.

"Marketing solution providers traditionally dealt with the IT department. However, as technology advanced, it became clear that the IT department was not close enough to the end consumer to truly understand how to create intimate 1:1 customer experiences. Today, marketers now truly own a seat at the table, and are being viewed more and more as a revenue generator, versus a cost centre."

"IT vendors, particularly those targeting marketing cloud solutions, present this as dead easy – point and click and you're up and running," adds Andy Lark, founder of Group Lark and former CMO of CommBank. "But, as we know, it doesn't simply work that way. Technology platforms are purported to be simple and easy to deploy, but they are not – they require security, governance, authentication, identity management, data protection."

CMO of NetApp, Julie Parrish, says IT could get more involved in developing guidelines for marketing people on the types of technology they can opt to implement on their own so they don't unintentionally run into significant security or systems integration issues. This means they'd also still be able to work technology acquirements into their own timeframes.

Another thing marketing finds frustrating about IT is imposing traditional cost structures to cloud solutions for marketing, says Lark.

"CMOs really want CIOs to more aggressively embrace the economics of the cloud, cloud deployments and the risk profile of cloud deployments, as opposed to trying to impose traditional IT cost structures over the top, making it hard for marketing professionals to align with," he claims. "You might be looking at a cloud solution that doesn't cost much at all, yet the internal consultant fee to get the project going can be greater than the cost of the cloud-based solution."

2. Data analysis tools not marketing friendly, access an issue

Another area of conflict is data management. Beck says IT has historically put data into spreadsheets or creating convoluted reports that usually tell the story of ‘what happened’.

“What happened is not that interesting to marketing people. The real-time reporting of what’s happening is more interesting. But what marketers really want is what’s going to happen,” she says.

“There’s so much talk about predictive analytics and all these other tools that let you pick up in sentiment analysis, and give you the ability to predict a behaviour.

“But what they also really need is data visualised, so for a nanosecond they can see the traffic patterns on the grocery floor, for example, and know why their candy bars aren’t moving as a product. It might not be because of packaging, pricing or positioning. It could be that nobody goes there in a grocery store – they all walk the periphery of the store where the real food is.

"So the visualisation of the traffic pattern in a store floor is the kind of data that a marketer wants to be able to see, not have to go through a huge spreadsheet to try to determine whether or not the data is going to tell them the story they need to hear or the picture they need to see.”

Read Pat Hanrahan’s mission to make data visualisation accessible to the business users, not a tool specifically designed for IT professionals.

Having to work with disparate systems is also an issue CIOs in many organisations are trying to wade through, Bonnici says. System integration is imperative for marketers as their success in targeting products and services to customers relies heavily on pulling different bits of data together and connecting of the dots.

“People are using various pieces of software that don’t necessarily speak to each other. The downside of this is that marketers lose the ability to connect the dots between the 'big data', ultimately limiting their ability to create a cohesive one-to-one view of the customer,” he says.

"Behind every app, every device, and every connection is a consumer – and in order to create intelligent customer journeys that surprise and delight, marketers need a true 360-degree view of their customers. In putting each and every one of your customers at the centre sets up your business for success by moving marketing closer to customer service. This is what being a customer company is all about."

Beck says it’s not about who owns the data, but more about how the data is distributed across the business that is the key.

“Remember marketing is collecting a lot of valuable data for the company. Everything from transactional data, predictive data, behavioural data, preferences, competitive data or customer data – it’s all of use to the product management, engineering, manufacturing, sales, to a lot of other people in the company,” she says.

“How does it get into the hands of people who need to make a better decision? IT can play a huge role there.”

IT also has a role in educating marketing in terms of the kinds of tools that are available today, so that marketing can “leverage things in in a much more dynamic way”, Bonnici says.

“Marketers frequently feel lost; there have been so many advances in the way of technology, yet so little education as to how to pull it all together. This is where I see the largest opportunity for CMOs and CIOs to work together and leverage each others' unique set of skills,” he says.

3. Marketing hasn’t a voice in IT

Beck says in many companies, marketing feels it has no voice in IT projects. “Often IT will go off and spin up their projects for the year, look at their budgets, start to do what I would call requirement analysis, and never even ask marketing if there’s something they might build into the project that they could benefit from," she says.

"Many marketers are frustrated with the fact that their needs are not considered when people are buying quite important infrastructure that impacts them. A good example is CRM," Lark adds.

Where there’s a pretty good collaborative environment and relationship between the two and they are talking on a regular basis, IT has been relatively decentralised, Beck says.

She gave an example of a decentralised IT team at Procter & Gamble where IT people sit in the personal care product and marketing teams. Their roles are to help the teams understand what technology can do for them to further their business goals.

“It’s something we are seeing more and more of,” she says. “Rotational jobs are not a bad idea. Maybe not at the CIO and CMO level, but circulating teams around through those kinds of functional jobs to learn more about what the other ‘side of the house’.”

CMO of Mindjet, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, points out that it goes both ways. Marketing needs to communicate their goals and objectives better with IT, and make the link with how IT projects could affect them.

"I’ve experienced the exact opposite many times where marketing leaders display a lack of empathy and poor listening skills when interfacing with the CIO," he comments. "If marketing wants to be involved in critical decisions being made by the CIO, the burden is on them to learn the way the CIO and his/her team works and nuances of their decision making process.

"That, at the end of the day, is the critical success factor in having a strong relationship - going out of your way to understand how the other group processes information, how it makes a call and prioritises, how they line-up projects to the objective of the organisations, and so on."

4. IT doesn’t fully understand marketing’s priorities

When it comes to priorities, CMOs are externally orientated, constantly looking out to the market place and to their customers, Beck says. The CIO, on the other hand, can be quite the opposite.

“IT's point of view comes very much from thinking about inside the company. Many of them still think that the real stakeholders and customers are the people inside their own company, so they don’t even have the same definition of customer.”

"The IT design or decision point is often driven by the most relevant stakeholder, not the interest of all stakeholders. So inevitably, marketing doesn't make the list," adds Lark.

Aligning business metrics is key, Bonnici says, as is a better understanding of each other’s area of expertise and roadmaps.

“The CIO needs to understand the CMO’s business metrics, and the CMO needs to understand the CIO’s security metrics," he says. "Together, they must educate the CEO on how they will be working together so that their KPIs can be re-aligned and business goals met."

Competing for resource and budget is also another issue that pushes the CIO and CMO away from being aligned and working as a team, Jennifer says.

"There are a constrained and limited amount of resources any company has to put to a problem – am I going to give money to IT to solve it, or am I going to give money to marketing? Setting up that kind of competition is unhealthy."

Joint funding and projects between marketing and IT is important in driving better collaboration and ensuring IT meets the outcomes set by the business.

“There’s nothing that brings people together better than having to do a project together,” Beck says. “Any joint IT-marketing project with a common goal, even if it’s an experiment or a pilot, is a great way for them to learn about what each other does - to know what you don’t know."

"We all need to remember that our competition is on the outside, not on the inside," adds Bonnici. "Regardless of business unit, everyone needs to better understand their colleagues' priorities and how they contribute to the bottom line."

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