“Data Management technology; great… *sigh*, but how much IT resource do we need?” Tomas Salfischberger, CEO and co-founder, Relay42, looks at how Marketing and IT can improve their working relationship.
As a data management platform (DMP) working with some of the biggest enterprises in Europe, this is the single most talked about, and tackled, organisational roadblock for our clients.
How – and at what point, do we involve IT in our marketing technology roadmap? And how do we cement this critical buy-in from both sides; taking any marketing-IT collaboration forward in a productive way which healthily befits everyone’s structure and goals?
The quick answer is that there isn’t a single, hard-and-fast answer for every business; but the broader mindset and approach should always remain the same.
1. Identify and align IT and marketing goals
There has been fabled frustration associated with the intersection of IT and marketing, and this is less to do with personality pigeonholing, and more to do with organisational goals.
Let’s lay out the concerns and objectives on each side.
Marketing decision-makers are keen to differentiate, to jump on new ideas and test emerging technologies; to acquire customers through winning their hearts – albeit quickly, and cost-effectively.
IT don’t want to keep closing and locking new doors after these insatiable explorers – they want privacy, stability, and reliability. Who will take care of this new shiny architecture; who will support and maintain it?
What marketing and IT both understand is that each department works in its own way, but that paths will inevitably cross, and projects will cross-pollinate as marketing becomes increasingly technology-driven.
What IT might be interested in, is a proven business case, which justifies any investment of resource from their side with a clear proof of concept, and an agile test-and-learn method.
2. Test and learn to build a case
Why not start without an IT project, but instead build a business case? Your CIO is one of your most crucial stakeholders, and so winning over both them, and their team, is a challenge worth accepting and diving into headfirst. Yes, this means choosing your technology very carefully to make sure it can deliver on the long list of infrastructural requirements. But then, it means getting practical and starting quickly with smaller cases you can manage more independently as a team, with some initial support from product specialists.
When it comes to a DMP, actualising smaller, more simple use cases could mean integrating just two external marketing channels. You might do this through enlisting the support of your DMP onboarding team, along with the specific channel integration partners.
The objective behind this is not to hide the project from your IT department – but to fit the framework you’re creating around the foundations of your organisation, and of course, to make sure it really works. Split-testing customer journeys and experiences and creating basic segments, like ‘customer’ and ‘non-customer’, to target across your two initial channels, means that you are a) starting to focus on the plethora of customer interaction points, rather than a single highly coveted and usually complex channel sitting with IT – like CRM, and b) even the most rudimentary cases offer tangible results – hopefully results you’re happy with.
In terms of mindset, this approach means less discussion and more pragmatism; at least to start off with. Whilst adopting marketing technology requires more than a modicum of strategic thinking and zoom-out to see the bigger picture, this doesn’t always get the wholehearted buy-in you were hoping for from all parties, and from all perspectives.
3. Prove and share to build a bridge
Then, it’s time to surprise your IT counterparts with concrete evidence to add colour – and numbers – to your claims. This isn’t just about proving ROI by presenting your very first use case; it’s about proving that your chosen solution is as it is described on the box – marketing technology, or software-as-a-service as it’s often described. It’s about proving that your team can work beyond the confines of the company sandbox, and recalibrate the relationship which marketers were condemned to have with technology. To debunk the myth which says that martech is weighted by a heavy dependency on IT.
Now you’re in serious business and see eye-to-eye, at least where your current project is concerned, IT can collaborate on your next steps: this might mean kickstarting a second project, or a third, by enlisting a hybrid team of technical and non-technical skillsets, to begin breaking down the IT/ marketing silo. Maybe it’s time to integrate your martech with systems which lean towards the structural emphasis of IT – think integrating CRM and in-house systems, with the social media channels which sit in your remit, and watch a world of possibilities open up.
To return to my earlier point surrounding the inherent differences between marketing and IT mindsets, this is healthy opposition. An opposition of thought which is necessary to maintain a balanced decision-making process. After all, businesses need to chase the leading edge; they need to experiment, just as they also need stability.
The truth is, if the marketing technology you choose isn’t built on quicksand – that is, it upholds privacy and security by design, never needs to compromise compliance for product effectiveness – and respects organisational policies in the right way, IT are in luck. In this instance, your newly formed project team have an easy ride through your marketing tech integration, with minimum maintenance – and just as importantly, a satisfying alignment with happy teams from both crucial disciplines.
By Tomas Salfischberger
Co-founder and CEO
Tomas founded Celerity ICT in 2004 with a Master of Science degree in Business Informatics. At Relay42, Tomas is responsible for general management, product vision, and international partnerships.