Why we need to be reevaluating the role of marketers in IT investment

Move over IT, there’s a new technology decision maker in town. Marketers are increasingly taking the reins and investing in digital technologies and solutions, without support from IT.

Primarily, marketers are looking to improve existing marketing software solutions already in place, however it’s becoming more common for markers to introduce completely new platforms as confidence levels rise. However, what remains unclear is whether marketers truly understand the technology they invest in?

Software company Squiz recently conducted research into the UK State of Marketing Technology, which gave us an insight into how marketers invest, and their purposes of such investments.

The research suggests that two-thirds (66%) of people within organisations now view marketing managers as the key stakeholders when purchasing new marketing software and not the IT department.

> See also: The three digital concepts customer service innovators need to grasp

However, IT still clearly has a role to play. Although marketing managers are now viewed as the key decision maker in these purchasing process, most workers surveyed said that they think the IT and marketing departments should work together on technology purchases and pool their budgets.

Greater collaboration

As more businesses look to data and digital technology to drive future growth, and undergo digital transformation programmes, greater collaboration and involvement of key stakeholders across the business is required to drive a successful result.

Put simply, while marketers are focused on finding a solution to the challenge they face today, the IT department must look further forward.

This breaking down of siloes needs to translate through to digital transformation now though, too. The end goal of a transformation project is to provide a better service to the customer.

To do this, a cross-functional strategy is required as serving the customer better is always going to require more than one team or discipline. Technology is no longer the sole responsibility of the IT department.

Making smart investments

Squiz's research also revealed the areas in which marketing departments are investing most. Marketing automation software topped the list, seeing a 92% increase from 2015 to 2016.

Whilst it’s great to see that marketers are investing in technology, and are taking the potential of new technologies to drive digital transformation seriously, our study suggests that many marketers are not making the most of these investments.

Over half (53%) of the respondents identified marketing automation software as area of the digital spectrum which they feel they could understand better, with lead nurturing (46%) and customer experience, as well as SEO, topping out the top three at 40%.

It’s all very well having a plethora of technologies at your disposal, but you must be able to know how to implement, integrate and maintain them to get the most of them on an ongoing basis. If you can’t manage the tool, confusion and misunderstanding is created, meaning that there will undeniably be a poor ROI proving detrimental to a digital transformation strategy.

Prove ROI

Marketers are no stranger to having to prove the return on investments that they make in order to secure additional budgets, and our research suggests that this is a constraints that half (53%) of marketers now face.

While proving the returns generated by an advertising campaign is one thing, providing the ROI of a digital transformation programme is a completely different ball game.

The first step is to understand that each department’s output has an impact on others. Once this has been recognised, it’s much easier to come together and work to collaborative goals to ensure that proving ROI to senior stakeholders is an easier process.

> See also: How technology will drive marketing in the next few years – Gartner

Integrating existing systems and investing time and effort connecting the dots through analytics or primary client research is of critical importance in being able to form the business case for further technology investments – data-driven, objective insights will win any argument.

Marketers often have the best view of the customer journey, from unknown prospect to repeat customer, so it can be them who can coordinate and work with different business departments to create cross-departmental plans (with the support of IT managers) for technology investments.

Through this process, it’s also possible to identify strategy and process refinements that can be made for wider business benefit. Working together with IT, marketers have a unique vantage point within organisations to be able to lead the call for change and wider digital transformation projects.

Sourced from Stephen Morgan, Co-Founder of digital transformation business, Squiz

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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