The numbers don’t lie: marketing organizations are embracing technology faster than ever. SiriusDecisions benchmarks show that spend on technology has more than doubled in the last two years, from an average of 2 percent of the overall marketing budget in 2009 to the current average in 2011 of 4 percent of the marketing budget, and trending higher. This investment has significant impact on all areas of marketing, so to better understand these dynamics we worked with Penton Media/Chief Marketer to conduct a new survey specifically around the details of that investment and how it’s managed. The story was clear: marketing operations is the IT department within marketing, and we believe that is a very good thing.  

First, a bit more on the facts. A few interesting data points emerged from the more than 200 companies we surveyed. In 84 percent of B2B companies, marketing funds its own technology investments with limited support from IT. In other words, when it comes to technology, marketing is on its own. Next, we asked who within marketing is in charge of the following aspects of managing that technology, and here’s what they reported:

  • Marketing operations manages vendor selection in 71 percent of B2B companies
  • Marketing operations manages the technology implementation in 66 percent of B2B companies
  • Marketing operations is responsible for the ongoing management of technology in 72 percent of B2B companies
  • Marketing operations creates the marketing technology roadmap in 76 percent of B2B companies

What the data, and our benchmarks, show is that marketing operations — which has been the hub for all things reporting, process and data — is also in charge of the technology that enables all of these areas, which makes sense. Operations has the skill sets to help with technology support in most cases, and it has long had a view toward building a cohesive infrastructure to enable the rest of the marketing. There’s no need for a separate team or another silo for technology when companies have the right skills and focus from the ops team already. What doesn’t make sense is that companies continue to underestimate what it will take to support technology investment, from process change to user training to data management.  

How bad is it? More than 70 percent of companies in our study said they had no budget for training this year, and 65 percent said the same or fewer people would be left to manage technology investments. That’s despite the fact that more than 70 percent of companies said their investment in technology would go up this year. Given the key role that technology plays in developing significantly better marketing performance, the lack of support resources is a big problem. Marketing operations, as that support team, is often under-resourced as a percentage of marketing program and personnel investment. To maximize return on technology investment, make sure the total cost of ownership is budgeted to provide for the operations people and programs that are needed, not just the cost of tools. This means companies who want the best return on technology must invest in marketing operations to provide adequate resources to meet growing demands for assistance. Don’t start a new team for technology, just provide for the good team you already have.