Only one in four marketing organizations report having a very effective working relationship with IT according to a recent report by The CMO Council. Building a strong relationship between the two departments can help solve data management issues that are increasingly a factor in delivering dramatic improvements in business performance. Improving these relationships is key to helping organizations navigate the turbulent marketplace of today.
Analytics Is a Team Sport Today
During my early days in analytics, I noticed the effort other analytics professionals put into explaining the value of analytics to management. They often spent more time doing this than interpreting insights from dashboard metrics. Those early attempts at winning a line item in the marketing budget for analytics was slow going.
Today the business case for analytics is clear for both marketing and IT managers. Everyone is working with software in one fashion or another. Since it involves software, analytics — from website to predictive — is now a standard for developing effective strategies and delivering innovative customer experiences.
The CMO Council study is not the first time the CMO-CIO relationship came up as an essential factor for success. Last year Adobe called out the value of that relationship, noting how CMOs and CIOs “must review all projects and establish priorities, together. The CMO … must communicate business needs to the CIO and other leaders, who can then determine what enterprise technology and tools are required.”
The relationship between CMO and CIO has shifted as analytics has grown more complicated. Web analytics was marketing’s first encounter with data, but much of the need centered on website development and support for the hosting server. Today, marketers incorporate data across a number of platforms — from open source data models created on IDEs to cloud services for advanced models such as predictive analytics.
Bringing these elements together is no longer the product of a single team. Teams collaborate across front-end and back-end systems to deliver analysis.
Tech advancement such as cloud platforms and self-services has made analytics work more convenient. Yet convenience can at times result in siloed working patterns, such as the shadow IT I described in this post. IT teams, struggling to maintain resources so updates and launches can be easily implemented and launched can at times overlook opportunities to coordinate front and back-end platforms.
How to Strengthen the Ties Between Marketing and IT
CMOs and CIOs should partner in an assessment meeting to review current activity within their teams. A meeting like this is an opportunity to discuss ideas for adjusting the current martech stack and analytic platforms. Marketing department managers, for example, can elaborate on their data processing capabilities, while IT managers can outline their availability to support operational activity involving data modeling and processing. A discussion on how to allocate budgets better can also result, where both parties identify ways to improve spend on activity.
An assessment meeting can feel like an elaborate audit, especially if it becomes a series of meetings rather than one to assess all the details. But the purpose isn’t to assign blame. It can be a pragmatic empathy exercise, helping marketing and IT teams to better process data and manage tech. Everyone has different skills depending on their preferred platform — one person may be more comfortable with GitHub and an IDE while another is an Excel champ. With both skills being needed, an assessment can discuss how to best coordinate data being cleaned using both platforms.
The discussion should explore processes, particularly as teams continue to work from home. Remote work can mask how processes are handled, which results in people confusing individual bottlenecks with systematic ones. Assessment meetings should reveal how people regularly work with data, and determine suitable adjustments to avoid misinterpretations like these. A good outcome from assessment meetings is establishing a central document that categorizes immediate tasks, such as educational training and best practices, and long-term tasks which identify research and development to implement.
All of this leads to better alignment of organizational processes to enhance the technical experience of marketing teams. It also allows IT teams to sort device- or software-related issues that introduce complexity to hybrid and remote workforces.
Related Article: Why Marketing and IT Need to Collaborate on Data Quality
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If your organization has never had an assessment meeting, a few articles might help you prepare to get the ball rolling. Rhoan Morgan wrote about CMO concerns, which can serve as a preamble for an assessment meeting. My explanation of the challenges for remote analytic teams and on rethinking analytics strategies can help keep perspective on proposed solutions.
While the world is still very much in a state of flux, now is the time for the IT and marketing departments to work together to make progress on common goals. Reviewing data, data warehousing, and analytics team workflow against IT responsibilities sets the right course for discussing that progress.
Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana, a small business digital analytics consultancy. He reviews data from web analytics and social media dashboard solutions, then provides recommendations and web development action that improves marketing strategy and business profitability.