Finding Common Ground (for CMOs and CIOs) at the Intersection of Marketing Street and Technology Road
By Sandy Kleinberg, Practice Lead, Business Architecture
Apparently, CMOs are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to making choices about what to do with their information technology (IT) applications. That’s what I concluded after reading “CMOs Paralyzed by Paradigm Shift (and CIOs Aren’t Helping),” an article posted on CIO.COM.
The CMO Council surveyed its membership to collect the numbers that prove it. The CIO.COM article cites findings that, “Only 3 percent of marketers say they’re doing extremely well at integrating marketing technology across functions. A mere 16 percent say their marketing technology strategy is tightly aligned to business strategy. And more than half of marketers are not sure whether their marketing technology investments are producing tangible business value.”
As a Business Architect, I find these results both disappointing and unnecessary. In my practice I’ve found a constructive way to get marketing and IT to look at “what is” and “what needs to be” in order to find a path forward.
The opportunities are too great to ignore application messes.
Sales and marketing encompass a broad swath of the activities tied to producing revenue. The information churning through the marketing engines offers a huge potential return both in how well we manage it and how intelligently we apply it in many areas such as:
– Customer Relationship Management – Winning and keeping customers.
– Salesforce Management – Using resources as efficiently as possible.
– Marketing Information Systems – Designed to support decision-making.
– Content Management – Product information for sales and support.
– Analytics – Big Data offers so many insights into market behavior.
– Operations – Tracking and reporting on finances, travel and expense.
Never mind the vendor choices within categories; just getting a perspective of the performance of what you already have in-house and what other application(s) might be a priority to add can be daunting, with or without the involvement of the IT department.
Step back and take a look at your big application picture.
Picking your way through a tangle of applications and priorities is familiar territory for an application architect such as myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of many successful application portfolio assessments. That includes marketing applications, too. In the particular case illustrated here, the marketing group had focused heavily on CRM (Dynamics, SAP), and Business Intelligence (Google Analytics, Microstrategy, SharePoint).
We convened a joint team of folks from marketing and IT for a rapid assessment. I started the process by leading the group in compiling a complete list of the applications currently in use. Then I had the marketing folks assess the applications according to several business criteria, while the IT folks assessed the technical value of each application.
1. Consider Retirement
2. Re-evaluate Business Value
3. Remediate Technical Deficiencies
4. Retain or Grow
Going through this exercise gave us a structured way of considering what actions marketing and IT might want to take in terms of managing existing applications and addressing any gaps that surfaced during our subsequent discussion.
Promote CMO to CIO cooperation for improved customer engagement.
We’re making a similar program available here at Leveraging Technology for marketing leaders and their IT counterparts. The first thing to keep in mind is that we can conduct this assessment extremely rapidly – in about two days of effort – once the required information has been assembled to bring to the table. In effect, the time and energy commitment to receive the benefits of the analysis is quite small.
The next steps are highly variable, depending both on the organization’s maturity and appetite and the situation they find themselves in on an application-by-application basis. It might involve vendor selection for replacement application(s). Or it might involve re-documenting requirements and revisiting integration design for applications that aren’t performing up to par.
Also, this is a great way to have a disciplined and unemotional conversation between technology leaders and marketing folks about the application portfolio. The outcome is a simple, easy-to-read graphic, along with specific suggestions on how to proceed with each of the applications in the portfolio. Used as an input to Leveraging Technology’s larger Initiative Planning Offering, a Marketing Application Portfolio Assessment is a simple, low cost way to get the conversation rolling on desired change around marketing technology.