Marketers nowadays have access to more data than ever before -- from data that can tell them exactly who their customers are and what drives them to data that outlines in real time how their campaigns are performing. With this huge influx comes the need for technologies that can sort through, make sense of, and empower marketers to make actionable decisions on that data. Fortunately for them, there are now numerous cloud technologies for marketers -- CRM and marketing automation systems in particular -- that can be implemented quickly and fairly easily.
The roles of CMOs and CTOs are shifting as the cloud transforms the enterprise. In many cases the marketing department is now making purchasing decisions without consulting IT, basically redefining their relationship from the ground up. IDC, in its 2014 predictions for CMOs, envisions that this year, “Innovative CMO and CIO pairs will throw out the rule book when it comes to IT's support of Marketing.” So, given this new and somewhat nebulous dynamic, the challenge is figuring out how marketing can get the technical support necessary to successfully implement new technologies.
In direct response to this we are seeing the rise of marketing operations – a group that sits within marketing and is responsible for quickly and effectively implementing technology solutions for the marketing department specifically. This group is basically closing the gap that has historically existed between IT and marketing. As far as the skill set is concerned, marketing ops professionals are numbers-driven, able to translate analytics into actionable insight. They are not typically recruited from IT departments, as an understanding of marketing and demand generation is essential. However, they must be able to create technology workflows – turning data into knowledge that is the basis for campaigns with the right content, executed at the right time.
Now on to the benefits. At a tactical level, the marketing ops department implements and operates all of the various CRM and marketing automation solutions that the marketing department requires. These professionals act as the bridge between the non-technical marketers and any internal IT teams or external software vendors. The staffers in a mini IT department within marketing have a clear understanding of marketing best practices, which enables them to quickly and securely implement the right technologies.
As a marketer myself, I also fully realize that the technology solutions marketers implement via marketing ops are actually helping the marketing department elevate its profile and gain credibility with the C-Suite. Historically known as a fairly soft science in which hunches and intuition guided decision-making, marketers now have access to a wealth of hard data that is actually helping forward-looking businesses re-architect their entire organizations around the customer.
Do you see this marketing operations phenomenon rising up in your company? What do you see as the main challenges that stand in the way of this kind of organization being more widely adopted?