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Continental Divide

By Jake Wengroff  |  Posted 09-08-2010 Print

Can marketers be trained in these new technologies, and can IT folks learn what marketers do? A transformation is clearly under way, as a cultural and educational shift occurs across organizations.

"The reason for the rift between marketing and IT is that the skills needed to manage marketing technologies are distinct and specialized from that of IT," explains David Bernard, principal of DB Marketing Technologies, a consulting firm in New York.  "IT traditionally did not have the resources to support marketing, and marketing people, mostly being creative or media types, are not IT people."

Lisa Welchman, founding partner of Welchman Pierpoint, a Baltimore-based consulting firm that advises enterprises on developing strategies for managing complex Web properties, says two things need to happen: IT needs to become more flexible than it traditionally has been, while marketing teams need to learn how to effectively leverage performance and success metrics.

"What this really means is resetting roles at the C-level," Welchman says. "Right now, no one wants to sit at the table and have an adult conversation about their Web presence. So companies can't take advantage of new technologies because they can't even talk to one another. CIOs are letting one of their most strategic business assets drift off."

Marketing and IT are married in certain industries. The more likely transactional relationships exist, the more likely IT is integrated with marketing. These include companies in the financial services, banking, and retail industries.

"Forget the CMO--the next big industry title will be the CMTO," suggested Shiv Singh, PepsiCo's director of digital, North America, during the recent Social Media Insider Summit. CMTO stands for chief marketing and technology officer. "Each time I catch up with my CMO, I ask her how much she is learning about marketing technology," Singh said.

Clearly, both functions can and should create a more symbiotic relationship. After all, they're both cost centers, vying for a piece of the pie--and credibility--within the organization. CMOs and CIOs both want to be considered a "need-to-have" rather than a "nice-to-have."

In small and midsize organizations, it's much more common for CMOs and CIOs to work closely. At Ergotron, a St. Paul, Minn.-based ergonomic technology peripheral designer and manufacturer with 1,400 employees and expected 2010 revenue of $190 million, CMO Jane Payfer and CIO Jim Fischer collaborate regularly. Because she wasn't allocated regular advertising dollars, Payfer, who has a technology marketing background, sought the assistance of the IT department to cooperate on online marketing initiatives, channel partnerships, and even product design. Two members of Fischer's team attend weekly marketing meetings to provide regular support and feedback. "In this way, we have more of an impact on what our customers are seeing day to day," Fischer says. In addition, Payfer's team's technical knowledge has increased.  "The siloed effect just isn't evident anymore," she says.

However, even in larger organizations CMOs and CIOs frequently collaborate and discuss issues most important to the bottom line. For example, SAP CMO Marty Homlish and CIO Oliver Bussmann chat regularly and understand the necessity and priority of integrating their two functions. Both internally and externally with clients, SAP urges IT to pave the way for marketing effectiveness, and for marketers to become more closely aligned with their CIOs or CTOs. "The challenge is making sense of data," Homlish says. "With 487 billion gigabits of data floating in the entire universe, the point is to turn insight into foresight. This is where the art and science of business comes together."

Of course, having SAP's CMO and CIO aligned so closely makes sense, since the company is in the business of selling business software. However, not all software or technology companies follow the same principle. "It's not the relationship you would always expect," warns Mike Hayes, chief strategy and operations officer at Geomentum, the division of Interpublic that works with retailers.

Homlish meets regularly with clients to demonstrate marketing ROI using analytics tools, and points to a regular 20% improvement in campaign response when marketers apply analytics to campaign management and automation.

What usually joins CMOs and CIOs is the ability to support and galvanize their sales teams. "CMOs and CIOs both know that their most important client is the sales organization," Homlish advises. Indeed, the ability to drive sales and revenue acts as a painkiller for any C-suite executive.


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