Where should marketing technology live in the marketing organization?
I agree with Forrester’s recommendation of creating an office of marketing technology within the department — headed by a marketing CTO or chief marketing technologist, reporting to the CMO. (For smaller companies, that “office” might consist of a single marketing technologist with many hats.)
But what should be marketing technology’s relationship to the rest of the marketing team?
The above diagram proposes one possible structure:
- Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Technology
- Marketing Operations & Tactics
- IT Protocols & Policies
In practice, modern marketing is far less “top down” than this diagram suggests. But the prioritization of these components is important.
Technology does not generate leadership, strategy, or creative. While it certainly can inspire and enable brilliant new ideas — and a good marketing technologist should continually feed such possibilities up to those levels — technology will not fix bad strategy or creative.
However, once it’s properly aligned with strategy and creative, technology should have dominant influence over marketing operations and tactics. Much of the power of marketing technology is its ability to efficiently automate and optimize marketing processes, accelerating them and making them more agile. You want to minimize grunt work and free up marketing’s human resources for more meaningful contributions.
Finally, even though marketing should take control of its domain-specific technology, it still must adhere to IT governance policies, especially with regard to security and data compliance regulations. Ideally, this layer should not unduly constrain the mission of marketing above it, but it’s prudent to respect its checks and balances.
What is the domain of marketing technology?
I see the domain of marketing technology as the intersection of three capabilities:
- Application software built for marketing, often highly configurable
- Programming, such as customer-facing apps/web sites and integration “glue”
- Data collection, analysis, and deployment in personalized experiences
Applications are now mostly cloud-based, including software such as PPC bid management, marketing automation, social media monitoring, post-click marketing platforms, SEO auditing and automation, and web content management.
Programming can be as simple as a little bit of scripting to “glue” together several different applications. It can be as sophisticated as customized data mining and parallel processing on “big data.” But the heart of programming in marketing is the development of customer-facing applications, be they mobile apps or web-based experiences.
Data is the input and output of all marketing technology. Unlike some of my colleagues, I don’t believe that the blossoming field of “data science” in marketing should be treated separately from other marketing technology. Data and the applications that generate it and use it are inexorably tied together. While some marketing technologists may specialize in data management and analysis, they should be distanced from the engines of that data.
(For more details on the specialties of marketing technology, see 8 things every marketing technologist should know.)
What do you think of this structure? Would you arrange it differently?