Digital marketing professionals need to invest more time and effort into building synergies with the information technology executives in their companies if they hope to optimize the benefits of an increasingly digital marketplace, according to Gartner Inc. analyst Jennifer Beck.
During an hour-long presentation last week on the expanding role of IT in the field of digital marketing, Beck said that while there has been no shortage of industry and media attention directed at the evolving CIO-CMO relationship, many companies still struggle with the real-world implications.
Beck traces the conversation to 2008, when the integration of marketing and IT could no longer be ignored and the emergence of new digital platforms began driving these two historically divergent paths onto a single superhighway. The transition was not always a smooth one, however; and even today Beck says her encounters with industry professionals reveal a broad continuum of relationships – ranging from the overtly adversarial to an atmosphere of near total harmonization.
According to Gartner’s own research, 70% of companies now have a chief marketing technologist or a corresponding position tasked with managing the merger of marketing and IT. But many still confront significant roadblocks dealing with the organizational ramifications of such a revolutionary shift in thinking. Indeed, less than 10% of top marketing and IT executives believe collaboration between their corporate functions is sufficient, even though the majority of new IT initiatives are being driven out of the marketing budget.
Beck says that for a number of reasons, finding common ground is more imperative now than ever. Foremost among them is the way in which companies acquire and process market intelligence – a phenomenon she calls the “externalization of information.”
“More and more of the business-relevant information that businesses need to make decisions… is now coming from sources external to the company,” she said, adding that the market environment in which brands now operate is highly dynamic and requires not only juggling data from a seemingly endless number of channels, but drawing value out of all the noise.
“The context in which you are understanding data is everything,” Beck said. “We have plenty of information sources, but are they the right ones? Are we looking at data in a way that tells the truth or is it lying to us? That is becoming a very interesting struggle for companies.”
This paradigm has elevated the organizational profile of data scientists and analytics professionals. But Beck says even the most relevant data is of little use unless it can be translated into effective content marketing strategies.
“Even if you get all the execution metrics right on your campaigns, if you don’t have something really interesting to say – if you don’t have a really great idea that can go viral, that people can share, that cuts through all the white noise – nobody is going to be listening,” she said.
Since neither one of these skill sets alone can drive brand success, Beck says companies that continue to harbor a silo mentality around their marketing and IT departments can never fully optimize their messaging campaigns.