The New Reality for Customer Engagement
Working with the offerings of their IT departments, marketers can gain tremendous credibility with other departments by demonstrating how their day-to-day tasks have a strong effect on the organization's bottom line.
"Fundamentally, [senior management has] to understand that you get their business. You see the opportunity as consistent with theirs, but as a marketer you look at it with freshness," explains independent consultant Tom Butta, who is formerly CMO of Red Hat, NICE Systems, and PTC Corp.
"Marketers need data and the ability to interpret data if they wish to be taken seriously by senior management," adds Scott Slatin, founder of Rivington Media, a search consultancy based in New York. "Beyond marketing automation tools or campaign management software, senior marketing people need to rely more on analytics to provide answers that solve business problems."
But not all CMOs and senior marketing executives agree. With the advent of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, they say they actually have had to deal less with their IT departments than ever before.
"IT usually only cares about the impact of the software on the network and security," explains Denise Persson, CMO and vice president of marketing for virtual events provider ON24. "Nowadays, it's the reverse--everything is cloud-based--so there is no need to involve IT." Persson explains that the ON24 marketing department uses Marketo for campaign automation, Vocus for social media, and Salesforce.com for CRM, although that is used across the entire ON24 organization, not just in marketing.
She did, however, explain that because she is marketing a technical product to nontechnical buyers--marketing and communications professionals--she often needs to lean on members of her IT team to present the technical capabilities during the selection process.
Indeed, several benefits exist for using SaaS, cloud-based solutions instead of traditional, on-premises solutions. Most SaaS providers provide low-cost trials, short contract lengths, and minimal integration or installation requirements, making it very easy to start. Many also offer the "freemium" model, meaning the basic service is free, but then upgrades to more bells and whistles require paying up.
Some of the largest marketing, CRM, and analytics providers offer SaaS, which means marketers would rely on their vendors--not their internal IT departments--for training or assistance.
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