Why your marketing department needs more tech resource

You’ve researched technology on the internet to power your marketing. You’ve been to the conferences, attended the webinars and run the 30-day trial. Everyone else is on board with the idea and are excited about the impact this will have on your plans. Then one of your colleagues asks you if you’ve already contacted the IT department to ask for their support…

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As the world of digital transformation unfolds before us, marketing is being put towards the centre of delivering new digital customer experiences. It’s necessary in order to attract and delight customers in this new smartphone-driven world. This needs to happen urgently, before the competition get there first and set the benchmark for what brands like yours should be doing digitally.

The problem is, most IT departments today simply aren’t geared up to support and deploying marketing technology and their resourcing levels are under pressure too. After all, the IT department isn’t there to support revenue growth, delight and retain end customers, or drive perception of the brand.

Sadly, it seems that for now, marketing is mostly on its own when it comes to functionally-specialist digital technology resource.
Aside from e-commerce companies or ‘digitally native’ businesses, very few large companies, recognise the need to investment in technical expertise within the marketing function itself. Talking to our clients, we guess that somewhere between 10-20% of marketing functions have marketing technology staff, and often this seems to be limited to data analyst roles rather than ‘solution architects’ or those likely to own the integration of marketing technologies.

The proof of the pudding…

So what’s the result of starving marketing of technical resource? Well, the evidence is all around us. With a few notable exceptions, I would say that most ‘traditional’ brands still score quite poorly when it comes to digital marketing execution, on all but the simplest levels.

Perhaps this is, partly at least, driven by an inability to integrate technology within the business, to deliver more powerful customer experiences.

What’s the role of the digital agency?

Another route to deployment of marketing technology is to extend the scope of your digital agency, or use the vendor’s professional services functions to deploy more technical capability to your campaigns.

Certainly, the more dynamic digital agencies are much closer to the power of digital technology and clearly some have technical staff. However, while an agency is well capable of using marketing technology to run a campaign, very few will truly partner with your marketing department to develop a marketing technology platform strategy, or take on a more embedded role in your business as a ‘tech integrator’.

The solution means organisational change

So we make the case that digital marketing capability within organisations is held back, at least in part, by a lack of technical resource/talent within the marketing team.

At a time when the world itself sometimes seems to be speeding up relentlessly, we believe marketing leaders need to be thinking about organising their teams and traditional marketing talent in such a way as it has ready access to real technical capability. We also believe that teams should be encouraged to take the time to try things out across the field of digital marketing (as well as delivering today’s campaigns), fail fast, make mistakes and learn by doing.

This will be the subject of another post very soon! Thanks for reading.

James has 20+ years experience in marketing & sales, initially at Vodafone and Microsoft, then more recently agency-side having founded Brightfly, an agency providing ‘digital agility’ for clients. Passionate about both marketing and tech, James is pushing the leading edge of digital journeys and customer experience.
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