Every so often, a couple of terms start to get tossed around more often than they had recently: marketing technology and marketing technologist. Marketing is becoming more data-driven, which requires the evolution and rise of hybrid experts in both marketing and IT, pundits opine.
It is of course true that marketing, like many other aspects of modern business, are becoming more data-driven. However, in the case of marketing, this is not necessarily purely a good thing. Credible, timely data should inform, not drive marketing. Marketing should be driven by customer needs and desires, and how a business addresses these. Credible data about those customers, needs, and desires is incredibly valuable to these efforts. As are the abilities to measure and report on their effectiveness, and to deliver data to marketing strategists and tacticians in easily usable and understandable forms.
The abilities to acquire, validate, triage, leverage, tailor, deliver, manage access to, and secure such data and information gleaned from it? That’s where IT comes in, and has an opportunity to shine. And IT may even be able to draw upon familiar experiences to do so.
Marketing People Are Users, Too
Your marketing colleagues are a proper subset of that universe of people you and your IT resources serve, referred to collectively as “users.” And there’s an entire discipline of IT devoted to aligning IT resources and processes with user wants and needs. It’s referred to collectively as IT service management, or ITSM.
And no, this isn’t just one more pontificator’s opinion. Allow me to quote from the Wikipedia article on IT service management.
“Differing from more technology-oriented IT management approaches like network management and IT systems management, IT service management is characterized by adopting a process approach towards management, focusing on customer needs and IT services for customers rather than IT systems, and stressing continual improvement.”
Perhaps you’ve heard of the IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL. Whether you have nor not, you may find the first sentence of the Wikipedia article on ITIL interesting and relevant here.
“ITIL…is a set of detailed practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business.”
Thus, IT teams that have pursued ITSM can use those experiences and lessons learned to inform outreach to and collaboration with their marketing colleagues to inculcate and support the evolution of marketing technologies and technologists. And for IT teams that have not yet started pursuit of or are new to ITSM, their marketing colleagues could be worthy “early adopters.”
Marketing Technology and Technologists: What IT Should Do Now
Where marketing technology is already in place, IT should ensure that it has enough information to manage and secure those technologies and the data they manipulate effectively, for every user, location, and device type. Where new marketing technologies are being considered, IT must be part of those discussions, to ensure compatibility with incumbent other technologies and relevant processes, notably those focused on security and data protection. IT should also work closely with those in marketing responsible for managing those technologies, to ensure that nothing happens that breaks anything.
Wherever your organization is regarding marketing technology, you can assume with confidence there will be more, and soon. As is (or should be true) with ITSM generally, specific tools and technologies are not the primary concern. Instead, IT should first focus on the business goals being pursued, and how best to enable and support those pursuits. IT should then focus on building and maintaining the relationships within, across, and beyond the IT and marketing teams that will drive marketing technologies forward at your enterprise. And throughout the journey, IT should remember that it’s all about the users (internal and external) and the business first. Always. (See “3 Skills IT Needs to Succeed – Marketing, Sales, and Customer Care.”)