The strained relationship between marketing and IT departments, it’s a tale as old as time (well, at least as old as the invention of computers). There’s certainly no love lost between these two; marketers request digital work to be completed in a month but it takes the IT guys that much time to stop laughing at the marketing team’s request and timeline.
Conversely, IT departments are often myopic in the way they work, too focused on the task’s parameters, technology, and security concerns to understand the bigger business need. Few companies have been able to find common middle ground between these two important business functions.
The good news is that we’re seeing positive movement on this front. Business executives are focusing more and more on the prospects of big data – that nebulous and ever-expanding cloud of historical consumer activity, social media commentary, and market research. We know there’s gold in dem der hills but extracting the value remains one of today’s great business challenges.
It’s this very challenge that necessitates a stronger alignment between marketing and IT departments and that has us wondering: Is the war between marketing and IT over? The formula for successfully mining big data in a timely and on-budget fashion demands better communication and cooperation between these two groups. In fact, it may require something of a merger.
McKinsey & Company shared a case study this month that showcases the importance of this partnership.
A global company recently decided to do what many companies are doing: figure out how to turn big data into big profits. It put together a preliminary budget and a request for proposal that in effect asked vendors to take the data the company had and identify opportunities.
Vendors were thrilled with what was essentially a free pass to collect and analyze everything (with due regard for customer privacy concerns, of course). Two months later, the bids were coming in 400 percent over budget. The obvious solution was to narrow the scope, but no one was sure what to cut and what to keep because the chief marketing officer (CMO) hadn’t specifically defined the most important data requirements, and the CIO hadn’t reviewed the request for proposal or intervened to prevent the inevitable above-budget bids. Months of wasted time and spending later, the company is no closer to a big data plan.
The New CMO-CIO Partnership
CMOs (and marketing agency chiefs) must lead their teams towards a better understanding of the science of marketing, which includes data mining, analytics, and customer lifetime value calculations. It’s no longer enough for marketers to develop creative campaigns that increase brand awareness and fill the sales funnel. They must be able to analyze transactional, personal, and social data – in combination – in order to discover accurate business trends and opportunities.
CIOs are not off the hook here; technology teams must move beyond their operational and support focus to become revenue enablers. This can be achieved by removing obstacles that limit the speed at which data can be accessed, integrated, and used. They must foster a greater understanding of business and consumer analytics among their teams so that the technology, hardware, and related operational practices within the organization are driven by an acute awareness of changing consumer patterns.
McKinsey & Company stated it very succinctly, “It may be a marriage of convenience, but it’s one that CMOs and CIOs need to make work especially as worldwide volume of data is growing at least 40 percent a year, with ever-increasing variety and velocity.”
Will big data force a merging of marketing and IT departments?
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