Martech collaboration between marketing and IT, and the real impediments to martech success

Martech Management Between Marketing and IT

Last month, I declared that the 10-years war between marketing and IT was over. This was in response to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020 that showed a remarkable reversal in the relationship: IT went from being one of the “top inhibitors” to marketing’s vision and strategy to being a “top supporter.”

Actually, IT vaulted into first place as now the very top supporter of marketing.

This week, Gartner shared their new Marketing Technology Survey 2019 research with me that provided deeper insights into this blossoming love affair.

The chart at the top of this post summarizes their findings about marketing and IT control over different martech activities. For each activity, you see the distribution of how the process is controlled in different companies, from solely marketing to solely IT, with collaborative models in the middle.

This chart is a gold mine of insights. Here are a few that leaped out at me:

  • Joint control in the “collaboration zone” is the majority for every single one of these activities, from 55% for managing the martech roadmap to 71% for configuring and deploying new marketing technologies.
  • For all of these activities, the majority of the distribution is weighted toward marketing — either marketing controls the entire process or marketing leads with guidance from IT. For example, 76% of companies manage their current suite of marketing technology this way.
  • It’s very rare for IT to control the entire process for any of these activities. Configuration and deployment of new marketing technology had the highest percentage, but even that was only 8%.
  • Marketing is regularly seeking IT’s input into the evaluation, selection, and purchasing of new marketing technologies. This is learned wisdom. In 43% of companies, marketing leads this process with guidance from IT.
  • Marketing is responsible for the funding of martech. Acquisition of budget for marketing technology is solely marketing’s responsibility 40% of the time, and for another 37% marketing leads with guidance from IT — 77% for those two models combined.
  • Almost none of these companies — 0% to 1% — have these activities managed by an external services partner. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of service providers in the mix, helping out. But martech is definitively an internally owned capability.

Marketing and IT are learning to harness their respective strengths together. To quote from Gartner’s report:

Because marketing best understands the workflow and needs of the marketing team, they are able to assess the extent to which individual technologies can overcome inefficiencies and enable process improvements. Since IT best understands the existing technology frameworks and interdependencies, they are able to recognize and overcome integration, scaling, and other implementation and operational challenges.

That brings a smile to my face.

I interviewed Benjamin Bloom, one of the authors of the report, yesterday and he expressed similar joy about the dispelling “the trope of the CMO and CIO being at war with each other, where ‘IT doesn’t understand marketing’ and ‘marketing is always making unrealistic demands’.”

“Opposition has turned into collaboration for the majority of companies, from setting strategy to selecting vendors to rolling things out,” Ben said. “High performing organizations are playing to the strengths of these two departments. Marketing has more responsibility for the business case, and IT takes more responsibility for the roll out.”

“Let’s find ways to work together” is the new mantra.

So in this new state of marketing-IT collaborative nirvana, what are the impediments to achieving business success with martech that still need to be overcome? This was the other fascinating finding for me in this Gartner report:

Impediments to Martech Success

Two of the top three impediments are people-related:

  • #1 — Investing in training and upskilling existing martech talent (29%).
  • #3 — Identifying and recruiting marketing technology talent (27%).

And #4 was process-related: identifying the optimal team structure, process, or workflows to unlock value from new marketing technology.

“Make sure you aren’t just getting something stood up, but planning for ways to increase adoption and utilization,” advised Ben. “That’s not about flipping a switch. It’s about having people and processes that are linked together. There aren’t that many people who have experience down in the plumbing across all solutions, and it’s a challenge to find the right people for your organization and use cases.”

Of course, there are still technical hurdles in the people-process-technology triangle. The #2 impediment: integration between marketing technology solutions. (This echos the article Tony Byrne just wrote about integration and collaboration themes among martech stack leaders.)

But I’m encouraged that the martech industry is increasingly focused on the challenges of integration, and I expect that we’ll see significant progress on reducing this impediment in marketing platform ecosystems over the next few years. (Admittedly, I’m biased about that mission — but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.)

The lowest ranked barrier to progress? “Collaborating With IT” — only 16% reported that was a major impediment to marketing achieving its goals with martech. Just in case you were looking for one more data point to confirm the new peace:

The 10-years war between marketing and IT is over.

P.S. I am very excited to announce that Ben will be one of our speakers at the next MarTech conference in San Jose, April 15-17, digging in more deeply to these dynamics across different companies with a session Benchmark Your Multichannel Marketing Technology Stack to Thrive in 2020 and Beyond.

Come invest in training and upskilling your existing martech talent.

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