At our Summit 2014 in May, we introduced the SiriusDecisions Intelligent Growth Model and the SiriusDecisions Confidence Index. They contained research findings on B2B companies’ optimism about growth over the next 12 months, as well as on the execution challenges to support that growth. In addition to showing insights on how sales, marketing and product need to manage the five pillars of Intelligent Growth, the new model presented clear action items for each function to support organizational growth.

Intelligent GrowthFor marketing, the two main action items are to align change initiatives to buyer outcomes and leverage analytics to drive investment decisions and measure results. These actions resonated strongly with me, as they sit squarely in the domain of the marketing operations function. This means that going forward, marketing operations has the opportunity to drive significant impact on organizational growth and morph into a more strategic function while doing so.

Let’s look at the impact that marketing operations can have on driving Intelligent Growth:

  • Support change management. Although CMOs initiate and lead significant functional change, marketing operations tends to be deeply involved in change management initiatives, as the function has experience in driving ongoing change to improve marketing efficiency and effectiveness (think marketing technology adoption, process improvements, and best practice syndication and training.) It is important to note that transformational change takes longer than minor changes and is more likely to fail if you don’t make operational changes that make it harder to stay with the old than move to the new.
  • Focus on buyer needs. Marketing operations is typically the ombudsman for the SiriusDecisions Campaign Framework, which aligns and choreographs disparate marketing activities around campaign themes based on specific buyer needs. Marketing operations often owns campaign planning and budget allocation, and coordinates campaign leadership.
  • Leverage analytics for impactful change. Measurement, reporting and analytics are the core (and often foundational) responsibility of marketing operations. Marketing operations owns the definition of the marketing measurement hierarchy and the establishment of standard KPIs and metrics, as well as the collection, analysis and dissemination of reporting data and insights. Marketing operations is also typically responsible for budget management, investment analysis and ROI reporting. As organizations embrace new analytics systems and tools, marketing operations must lead the effort to expand into predictive and prescriptive analytics from descriptive historical reporting.

As b-t-b companies focus on growth opportunities, marketing operations teams must think strategically, applying their unique expertise to drive growth initiatives and, in some cases, reinventing themselves. While many marketing operations functions have evolved into a strategic role, others are still operating at a tactical level. As organizations shift into growth mode, it’s time for marketing operations to take a seat at the marketing leadership table to operationalize the CMO’s strategy, foster a disciplined focus on buyers’ needs, comprehensively apply analytical insights, and proactively plan and manage growth.  

The bottom is line is that CMOs who wish to successfully adopt the SiriusDecisions Intelligent Growth recommendations need to have a strong marketing operations function to fuel the marketing growth engine.