Title fight: who owns martech – marketing or IT?

CMOs must take control of an unruly martech stack – or the tech team might take charge.

Despite Gartner’s predictions that CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs by 2017, the research and advisory powerhouse’s recent research has shown that spending on martech fell 15 per cent in 2017. At the same time, marketing spend relating to total budget also declined.

Gartner attributed the drop to marketing’s inability to prove martech’s contribution to the bottom line. It also questioned CMOs’ ability to manage technology well.

"Significant investments need to prove business value, or else they end up being considered costly vanity projects," the report states, somewhat obviously. The next point on that continuum is just as threatening: if CMOs don't prove they have made the right selection, IT could take a more prominent role in martech decision making.

Who controls martech?

The reality is that IT and CIOs are taking a more prominent role in most business decisions. They are also expected to lead innovation company-wide. The possibility of IT controlling martech is sure to ruffle a few CMOs’ feathers, so the question is: does the IT department know what marketing needs?

Natali Talevski, Global Marketing Operations Manager for software company IR, says martech should always be the responsibility of marketing. “In all the companies I've worked with, it's always been the marketing team,” she says. “I think that is the correct place for it.”

[caption id="attachment_1272" align="alignleft" width="300"]Julienne Harry Lendlease Marketorium B2B Marketing martech technology IT Julienne Harry, Global Group Digital Marketing Manager, Lendlease[/caption]

Grasping the technology, Talevski believes, is only one part of creating an effective martech stack. “It's one thing to understand technology, but marketing is a very different discipline,” she says. “You need to understand at least the very basics of tracking, of attribution, of marketing qualified leads, of sales qualified leads, opportunity velocity – all of that. Because only when you understand that theory, can you then build out that technology stack.”

Julienne Harry, Global Group Digital Marketing Manager at Lendlease, also believes that martech should remain marketing’s domain. “Making sure all the lights are switched on and it works, that's under the CIO,” she says.

Harry warns lousy implementation happens when martech isn't tailored to marketing's needs. “We have all these great new features: the customisation, personalisation – but what's the actual benefit? The analysis, as a performance measurement, sits on the business side because then they can work out what the next step will be."

While she stresses her team has a great relationship with IT, she says the IT team is focused on delivering technology and often not the digital strategy.

Measuring martech’s importance

If marketers want to retain control of their tech stack, they need to be able to communicate the value of their decisions and actions. This should be on three fronts: revenue, efficiency and delivering against broader business goals.

“I know that with a lot of businesses the revenue is absolutely what's most important,” Talevski says. “That's understandable. You need to make a profit so your business can keep going. But, for me, revenue and efficiency are equally important.

“For example, if it takes an hour to build a campaign and all the relevant tracking in one system, and it takes five minutes in another, well then that's actually quite important because it means your team is now more effective. They can do things quicker. It means you can get more out of the system.”

Don’t fear digital

Harry has been working to improve marketing's tech know-how so that her team can better collaborate with IT on its needs. "Nowadays, if you're working in marketing, it's a necessity to have an understanding of technology," she says. "I'm not expecting coders, but I am expecting people who can understand and properly brief IT."

Now, she says, her team can come up with its own solutions and tell IT precisely what to deliver. “That is the key,” she says, “being able to know what's possible to brief and communicate with IT but then think about what's relevant to the business.”

Talevski says the nitty-gritty technical expertise is “somewhat rare” among marketers so sharing knowledge is essential when building out martech. She cites the example of a marketing team that wants a new system to track revenue. “The tech team can say, ‘the base capability doesn’t connect into other systems that are mission-critical for you. I wouldn’t go with that system’.”

Cleaning up a messy martech stack

 Talevski knows the difficulties of an unruly martech stack. She recently reimagined IR’s martech to make everything trackable, attributable and reportable. IR’s martech stack includes Marketo and Salesforce, along with a range of integrated programs programmed to the hilt. Anything the stack could do, it was doing.

And it was doing too much. It complicated campaign tracking, confused efforts to attribute pipeline and revenue, and overdid simple actions like sending alerts to the sales team.

[caption id="attachment_1271" align="alignleft" width="300"]Natali Talevski IR Marketorium B2B Marketing martech technology IT Natali Talevski, Global Marketing Operations Manager, IR[/caption]

“The sales teams were receiving alerts every single time someone visited a webpage,” Talevski says. “That meant they were getting several alerts within the space of an hour because someone was researching on site.”

The system caused frustration. With the information overload, alerts and lead opportunities were ignored.

The first step in Talevski's task was to understand what the business required. "For automation tools and CRM systems, the simpler you build them out, the more effective they are," she says.

Talevski looked at what the marketing team needed to do their jobs efficiently. She looked at why the sales team was using the system. She explored what actions people wanted to track and optimised from there.

She removed duplicate triggers for campaigns and rebuilt the alerting and lead scoring. All the while, she included sales and marketing to ensure the changes worked for both teams.

The team kept a handful of things, she says, “but for a vast lot of it we rebuilt because it was just easier to start from scratch”.

“You can’t always get to perfect, but you can probably get close to it,” she says. “Our systems are working a lot better than they were.”

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Further reading: How to stop your martech running out of control