• The relationship between the CIO and CMO can be strained, at best, in some organizations
  • The explosion in marketing technology is creating an opportunity to build a bridge between the IT and marketing organizations
  • Learn the first two ways to use this opportunity to improve the CIO/CMO relationship

We’ve heard rhetoric in recent years about CMOs and CIOs working more closely together as marketing drives a greater portion of companies’ technology investment and roadmap. But the marketing technology industry continues to make quantum leaps, and any IT and marketing alignment forged on a common roadmap may dissipate as we chase a faster-evolving industry.

The number of emerging companies and categories in marketing technology has exploded over just the past two years, with now more than 1,800 companies in 43 categories catering to this industry. Large, established enterprises (e.g. Oracle, IBM) are branching increasingly into martech, along with the startups funded by venture capital flocking to this industry.

This amounts to a double-edged sword for marketers and CIOs trying to keep up:

On the one hand, this is a “candy store” of capabilities – predictive analytics, mobile marketing platforms, advanced 1:1 targeting, dashboarding tools and more – and nearly all are software as a service (SaaS)-based with free trials and low-cost, easy initial implementations. As a marketer, you are in a race with your competitors to be the first one using the most advanced stack of capabilities, to best improve your relationship with new prospects and conversion to customers. Most martech professionals are digital-savvy and able to implement any of these new tools without their company’s IT support.

On the other hand, all of this amounts to a greater risk, especially from the IT perspective. Scott Brinker talks about the “Frankenstack”: too many diverse tools are purchased too quickly, and they turn into a giant, un-integrated mess. Furthermore, vendors competing for growth and market share are becoming more aggressive and approach multiple groups at a single company to offer trials. You can end up with three or more different groups (marketing, IT, sales, etc.) purchasing a different tool to accomplish the same thing.

How to harness this brave, new exploding world of martech for good? Below are five thoughts on how IT executives can make the most of the explosive marketing technology industry:

  1. Let’s remove “shadow IT” from our vocabulary.
    The term “shadow IT” minimizes the legitimacy of the marketing technology function and causes tension at the outset between IT and marketing. I’ve also heard the opposite: “shadow marketing” to refer to IT’s purchasing a marketing technology without involvement from the martech team. Martech is not going away – in fact it is taking more and more of the core IT resources and budget just to keep up. Furthermore, the martech team not only is tech-savvy but also often has a software development background. There is typically little to no involvement needed from core IT to deploy and support most of the marketing technology stack. However, marketers will approach IT when they need an integration or access to a data source. Rather than an attitude of “OMG what is marketing doing implementing all these tools?” there should be a mutual understanding set ahead of time to ensure IT understands what martech is trying to accomplish, preventing surprises or conflicts of role and responsibilities.
  2. Share the roadmap and blueprint across marketing, IT and other teams: know your tools and talent and be able to recognize an overlap.Internally, having a martech blueprint and detailed roadmap is critical to keeping the stack of tools on the right track. Encourage marketing and IT to share a common roadmap, and invite all affected teams in to this process. Often, there are similar initiatives happening on different teams, but a single tool or team can solve multiple problems. Encourage all team members to actively look for overlap, even between a tool feature and something an internal team has already developed or solved on its own. Also, when timing additions and buildouts to the roadmap, the organization must move quickly enough, but not exceed capacity to integrate and fully deploy the capabilities already in place. Upcoming releases of tools in the stack also often create a new redundancy. Martech vendors constantly are adding or acquiring features that spill into new categories and may provide a cost advantage over another tool already in place.

Read more in the second part of this series from Cynthia Gumbert.