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Why marketing leaders need to work more closely with IT

Modern marketing relies on technology to deliver but despite this, many CMO–CTO relationships can at times be contentious.

Modern marketing relies on technology to deliver but despite this, many CMO–CTO relationships can at times be contentious. On average, marketers use six to 10 different tools and while cloud-based applications present businesses with opportunities, a number of new risks and inefficiencies can also result from growing tech stacks.

Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2018–19 found technology now accounts for 29% of marketing expenditure, with marketers set on spending more and more each year on new software.

However, most lack the tech knowledge that would allow them to know exactly what to vet when it comes to ease of implementation or integration. Many vendors get rich from charging for the professional services it takes to get solutions up and running.

Understanding the dangers of operating in a vacuum and continually adding to the tech stack without conferring with the CIO or CTO is half the battle for marketers. The real problem lies in the actual usability of a solution once installed.

If this results in too complex an exercise, it immediately impacts the time to value, usually manifesting in a gradual widening of adoption, and leaving in its wake a mound of redundant or ‘empty’ software.

Today, marketers have become both data scientists and technology architects. That being said, CMOs are simply not well versed in the complexities of infrastructure, scale, security and technology integration like their tech counterparts.

Instead of implementing unsanctioned systems and creating unnecessary organisational risk, marketers should, in the first instance, work on nurturing good working relationships with their CTOs, and vice versa.

Start with goals, move to strategy, then tools

The first step towards fostering a successful CMO–CTO relationship is to identify the company’s business goals. What is the company hoping to achieve and is the technology in question the right tool for meeting these goals?

Identify a problem and work backwards. Is the end goal to boost productivity? This may mean automating a time-consuming task, which allows employees to focus on higher-level tasks. Or, perhaps, the end goal is to further personalise customer communications throughout their life cycle.

Whatever the goal, it’s important to involve CTOs who can assist with figuring out the best approach for implementing and integrating tech. This also minimises the likelihood of further problems down the track.

Establish good rapport

Successful relationships require mutual understanding of challenges, constraints and needs. Problems arise when marketing and IT, for the most part, still speak a different language. Marketers find it challenging to articulate their technology needs, while IT folk lack marketing know-how.

Marketers should spend time with their CTO to develop a good working relationship and gain further insight into how they work. This is a good opportunity to raise any pain points the marketing team is experiencing and get the CTO’s input on how best to move forward to accomplish marketing goals.

And, with data privacy on the agenda for all organisations, these meetings are a prime opportunity to quiz CTOs on the ins and outs of data governance and ensure marketing is up-to-date on industry best practice.

Mind the gap

Technology can be a great enabler, but it can also be a huge distraction. Across all white-collar functions, workers can lose up to 40% or 16 hours per week of productivity due to complexity driven by technology; having to multitask and switch between multiple software applications.

Going back to the stats, a marketer may have deployed, on average, six to 10 technology tools, but only a small percentage of their functionality is actually used. Not only is this affecting marketers’ efficiency, it also impacts businesses’ bottom lines and likely has flow-on effects on customer experience.

Empty software occurs because technology is overlaid with more tech, augmented by new hires driven by marketplace trends. CTOs can help marketers with optimising MarTech stacks, reducing inefficiencies and assessing software to determine whether it delivers on its promises.

But also, marketers should be on the look out for platforms that can deliver personalised experiences for their customers at scale, without an extensive period of training and exhausting implementation.

Both marketing and IT see the value of defining a technology strategy that supports the business’s overall goals and both teams increasingly understand the value of collaboration.

With technology being the single largest investment when it comes to marketing resources, CMOs and CTOs must form a strategic alliance to implement the best solutions for the overall business. Working together, asking for advice and having a collaborative mindset will ensure teams are fully collaborating to choose the best way forward.

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