I accept that the relationship between marketing and IT is a complex one.
Although my opinion is that marketing should specify, recommend, select, purchase, and operate its own marketing technology — I believe it is now an integral part of what marketing is in a digital world — I also acknowledge that other organizational structures can work too. If IT and marketing have a highly collaborative relationship, then keeping more of the technology management responsibilities in IT’s hands can make sense. This is especially true if marketing has yet to build out their own technical bench and capabilities.
But one thing I cannot fathom is the notion that, here in 2012, marketing can have a completely “hands off” approach to marketing technology.
Even if marketing needs a technical partner in choosing, implementing, and operating marketing software — be that the IT department or an outside marketing service provider — there’s no excuse for marketing to not be in the driver’s seat of dictating what they need that software to do. It would be like a master carpenter showing up empty-handed and saying, “Tools? Who cares? I’ll just use whatever is lying around — yeah, like this rock will be fine.”
So I was surprised — actually shocked — that a recent survey of marketers by the ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing reported the following roles that marketing plays (or not!) in the purchase of marketing information technology:
- 59% don’t specify marketing technology
- 45% don’t recommend marketing technology
- 46% don’t select marketing technology
And 15% responded that marketing does not play any significant role in the purchase of marketing technology.
Are you kidding me? Is “marketing” not half of “marketing technology” by definition?
Now, I know this is a period of transition. Marketing’s having to take on new technology responsibilities that still may seem foreign to many. The organizations in which marketing lives may still have legacy processes and structures in place that hinder marketing’s evolution in marketing technology maturity. One can even argue that a “late adopter” strategy has its own benefits.
But in the big picture, the ship has sailed: marketing is now deeply entwined with technology for how it reaches and engages with prospects and customers. If marketing is not taking a proactive role in the decisions of marketing technology, it’s ceding a tremendous portion of its control over the outcome of modern marketing initiatives. And if you don’t have control, but you’re still held accountable for the outcome, you’re in a precarious spot.
I’ll be speaking at the ITSMA’s annual marketing conference later this month. If there’s any of those 59% who aren’t specifying marketing technology yet at the event, I’m hoping to convince them of the necessity for grabbing the reigns — before the wagon goes off the cliff.