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Can Big Data Breach IT and Marketing Divide?

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Posted August 23, 2013 By Ann All     Feedback

IT, marketing functions should partner on Big Data analytics initiatives, experts agree.

Earlier this year Gartner analyst Laura McLellan sent some shockwaves through the C-suite with her prediction that chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than chief information officers by 2017.

Yet it isn't that surprising, given recent software spending trends. As IDC pointed out, spending on enterprise software was sluggish in 2012 with the exception of several key categories, notably markets associated with Big Data and analytics.

Big Data initiatives seem like a big opportunity for IT to partner with marketing, a business function that drives sales and top-line revenues.

Wes Moore, vice president of Integrated Marketing Management Solutions for Teradata, certainly thinks so. When I interviewed him recently, he mentioned several examples of how IT can assist marketing with its analytics efforts.

Partnering on Big Data Process, Integration

Forty-two percent of marketers surveyed by Teradata for its report on data-driven marketing cited "lack of processes to bring insight into decision making" as their primary barrier to using data in decision making. IT can help, Moore said, by giving marketing the capability to automate processes related to data quality, performance management and marketing workflow.

Another key opportunity for IT involves integrating marketing tools and technologies so that marketing functions can obtain a cohesive view of customer activities across multiple channels, something that can help them present highly targeted offers to customers. Just 18 percent of the respondents to the Teradata survey said they currently were able to do so.

How important are such targeted campaigns? Writing in Forbes, McKinsey consultants Jonathan Gordon, Jesko Perrey and Dennis Spillecke say McKinsey research indicates that personalized offers can increase sales by 10 percent or more and improve the ROI on marketing spend.

While opportunities for partnership are clear, many companies are not leveraging them. Only half of respondents to the Teradata survey say marketing and IT are strategic partners. (There may be a larger "tunnel vision" issue. About a third of the respondents said they coordinate with other business functions only on an ad-hoc basis.)

Initiating the Data Discussion

So what can companies do to create a closer working relationship between marketing and IT? Participants in a recent live chat presented by The Guardian's Media Network offered some good suggestions, which appeared in a recap of the chat.

It will be easier to foster collaboration if a CIO has spent at least some part of his or her career in a business function and if the CMO has an interest in technology, said Vincent van den Boogert, general manager of marketing for ING Netherlands. "If they work more together on solving the same problem, they will both feel more valued," he said.

Brian Streich, international marketing director for StubHub International, advised marketers to identify their goals before sitting down with a technology executive to determine how to get the data needed to fulfill those goals. "… You have to start with thinking about what it is your trying to communicate or do for your customer and the data you want. I would then sit down with your chief technology or information officer and try and understand what data you already have and how accessible is it. Once you understand that, you can begin to identify the missing data you want to collect and can work together to come up with a plan on how you can begin capturing or accessing that it."

Keeping the conversation going is important, he added, noting that the IT and marketing functions at his company communicate regularly. "… We work closely to educate them on what our customers are doing and what they want – and they educate us on solutions that may exist and how we can best accomplish that. Personalisation isn't just a feature and it will never end so we need to constantly keep the dialogue open and feed back in what is and isn't working."

Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.

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