Where marketing execs are spending all those tech dollars

Gartner says marketing may spend more on tech than IT, but for what?

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But integrating and modernizing existing information systems will take years because "most large enterprises heavily customize their CRM products or create their own combination of homegrown and package-based solutions," says Chris Davey, global head of customer engagement platforms at the digital marketing consultancy SapientNitro.

IT has historically created the infrastructure for structured data, such as those held in ERP systems and data warehouses, used for financial reporting or to look at past transactions for uncovering changes in customer purchases or comparing projections to reality. But IT has little experience in bringing in data from the outside or from customer touchpoints, such as analyzing website behavior prior to purchase or understanding the behaviors that customers go through before ever coming to a business's website. That's where big data technology comes in, so businesses can get insights from new data sources. As the name "big data" implies, there's a lot of such data, and being able to sift through it in the more exploratory fashion appropriate to marketing analysis requires different technologies and information management skills than IT has typically needed.

Because the information systems that support technology-savvy marketing involve many of the systems that run the day-to-day operations, governance is a critical area that requires attention from multiple business departments. It can't be done by just IT, by just marketing, or by any other single entity.

Technologists across the company need to focus on data protection, ownership, and access of both traditional data sources and the new types of data, such as social, mobile, and, behavioral, now available. Add to the mix the many database marketing companies (such as Epsilon, Experian, First Data, Harte-Hanks, and R.R. Donnelley) that manage captured customer information on behalf of many enterprises. The result is a web of complex -- and evolving -- agreements governing ownership and access among every participant.

The new web of technology relationships in your company
For starters, managing that web requires putting together an internal steering group composed of the marketing chief, CIO, sales and/or e-commerce chief, brand and geography heads, and one or more analytics experts.

Creating an internal steering and coordination group doesn't mean all the technology should be centralized, just coordinated, says Gartner's McLellan. She expects IT to focus on the infrastructure and back end, using a mix of internal systems and external technology providers. She expects marketing to handle the digital marketing and analysis, again using a combination of internal and external resources.

Without such coordination, companies will end up with a bunch of marketing technology silos that won't integrate well with the rest of the company -- and that will lead to a disconnect between what marketing does with and for the customer and what the rest of company does with and for the customer, creating devastating chasms in the customer experience.

This story, "Where marketing execs are spending all those tech dollars," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in technology business at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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