Can Marketers And IT Work Together To Master The Flow Of Your Customer Data?

Marketers, how are you getting along with IT these days? It matters more than it used to. The job your company expects you to do is more and more entwined with technology. And so are the people in your target market.

Our research at Forrester shows almost half of US adults say technology is important to them.  And the ecosystem of suppliers of marketing-centric technologies and services is ballooning.  So whatever your aim as a marketer — whether it’s listening to the market, engaging with potential customers, or measuring the results of those efforts — you can’t do your job without these many technologies of new channels, new services, and new products.

This technology entwinement is especially tight when your company tackles the challenge of mastering the flow of customer data throughout the organization, from inputs across customer touchpoints, to the many ways you subsequently engage those customers. The struggle is not only in how to do this but also in how to do it sustainably: How to remember what data’s been collected, how it’s been used, what the outcomes have been, and on and on.

Where it gets messy is that marketers and IT often sing from different hymnals when it comes to making the most of all the relevant technologies. You’re eager to get to market with exciting new tools for engaging with potential customers, and you’re willing to experiment. But your IT colleagues often seem to be focused above all on cutting costs and avoiding risk — goals that rarely mesh well with what you’re trying to get done as a marketer. Not surprisingly, one marketing exec that Forrester interviewed recently called IT the “Department of No.”

Whereas in the past it may have been possible (even expected!) for marketing and IT to work at arm’s length, it’s not an option anymore.

At Forrester, we see this as such a challenging issue that we’re publishing a series of research reports about it.  We’re also dedicating a one-day conference to tackling the central issues and share best practices: a CIO-CMO Forum, at which I'll be co-facilitating a breakout session, with my colleague Alex Cullen, on developing better processes for IT and marketing to work together.

(If you care to join the conversation at that event and you haven’t signed up yet, there’s info here. And even if you’re not a Forrester client, you can still register at a reduced rate if you mention this blog and the promo code CIO11BLOG.)

What’s been your experience as a marketer, in your efforts to reach out to your colleagues IT? Has it been as dire for you as what we’ve found it to be in our research? What suggestions or recommendations do you have about how to address the challenge? Share them here as well as at the event, if you can join us.

Comments

CCM Software

This is an ongoing challenge. What we suggest - and work to help customers do is to
1) avoid patchwork solutions that then don't integrate effectively and easily with existing systems: always considering the next next step helps to keep from creating complex IT projects down the road, and modular, end-to-end solutions provide flexibility to not overspend today/expand capabilities tomorrow as needed
2) include solutions that require less IT day-to-day involvement: providing controlled interfaces that don't require extensive IT knowledge or participation for use can free up IT to focus on bigger challenges - and help marketers be more nimble in the process.