As b2b companies adopt such increasingly sophisticated technology as marketing automation and content management systems, they are creating new roles within their marketing departments that blend marketing and IT expertise.
Motorola Solutions has a dedicated team of about three dozen marketing and IT experts that reports to the CMO. SAP has a business information officer who reports to the CIO and works with a marketing operations team to implement marketing technology. Other companies, such as EMC Corp., are creating groups of marketing and IT people who work jointly on marketing technology projects.
While organizational structures vary across b2b businesses, the goal is the same: Bridge the gap between marketing and IT, and use technology effectively to improve marketing.
“Marketing IT experts are a fairly new role at Motorola,” said Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-CMO at Motorola Solutions, which provides mobile technology to government, retail and enterprise customers.
About three years ago, Motorola created a team of about a dozen marketing IT experts within the marketing organization to initially work on the company's website, then on collaboration and social media technology. That team reported to Conrado. There was also a team of more than a dozen people in the IT department that was dedicated to sales and marketing technology and worked with the marketing IT experts to define strategies and technology platforms for marketing.
In September, Motorola made another significant change to its marketing and IT organizational structure.
“We have moved one step further; we ended up merging the IT and marketing teams that were working on technology platforms into a single organization,” Conrado said. “This is the best of both worlds—blending marketing and technology into a single organization.”
This new group is responsible for marketing technology business requirements; program management; external and internal websites; customer data; and social and collaboration platforms. The team reports directly to Conrado, with a “dotted-line” report to the CIO.
“The beauty of this, in terms of driving strategy on the digital landscape, is that anything customer-facing is strategically driven through the marketing organization; and, in terms of integrating it into a global role, there is a hard link into the IT department,” Conrado said.
The group is currently working on a customer database to pool information from Motorola's enterprise resource planning, sales force automation and marketing automation databases, and provide a 360-degree view of the customer, Conrado said.
“The team is made up of a marketing lead, who is defining the business requirements; an IT lead, who is working on how to structure and build the architecture; a change management person to look at the implementation; and an internal organization that is working with partners or vendors,” he said. “That is all blended within a single organization. It allows us flexibility in how we structure our teams, and allows us to be more efficient, more agile and effective—and test faster.”
Other companies are taking different approaches to bridge the gap between marketing and IT.
“We don't want to build an IT department within marketing, but we want to make sure we leverage the right tools,” said Jonathan Becher, CMO at enterprise software company SAP. “One of the things we did this year is we created a new role within marketing called the business information officer.
“It's a tough person to hire. They have to be IT-savvy but also understand the business side. A traditional IT person knows bits and bytes but doesn't know the business side of marketing. A marketing person who understands technology fills a unique role.”
That role belongs to Andreas Starke, business information officer for marketing, who works with Nancy Fessatidis, VP-marketing operations, to define business needs and implement the right technology (see story, below). SAP also has business information officers dedicated to sales, product development, finance and HR.
“One of our advantages, since we have almost all the technology you could want, is that we have early access to the technology you'd need for marketing,” Becher said, pointing to SAP Business Objects, CRM, database management and mobile software it uses for marketing, in addition to third-party systems for outbound campaign execution.
“Our marketing environment is probably one of the most challenging environments for any marketing automation vendor, with over 120 countries served and more than 200,000 customers,” he said. To automate all this and optimize the technology for marketing takes “a dual role between marketing and IT,” he said.
Data storage and cloud computing company EMC Corp. has also reorganized the way its marketing department works with IT to implement marketing technology.
“It has dramatically changed in the last two years,” said Nicolas Rodet, senior director-digital marketing at EMC. “In the past, we would work in the traditional "waterfall' way, in which marketing would define the requirements and hand the requirements to the IT team, and they would translate the requirements to technology and implement it.”
This approach created some challenges, Rodet said. “Marketing evolves at a very fast pace, so by the time we would document the requirements, the technology would change, and we would always be catching up,” he said.
EMC has shifted to an “agile” project management approach to technology implementation. The company also creates teams of marketing and IT people—usually with no more than 16 members—who work together on specific marketing technology projects. The teams report to the e-marketing group, which is part of EMC's corporate marketing unit.
Rodet said there are now about 14 teams working on such projects as marketing automation, content management, websites, online communities and mobile platforms.
“The team members really see themselves as one team—not people coming from marketing or IT,” Rodet said. “There is great cohesion.”
Connector manufacturer Molex Inc. is also creating closer alignment between marketing and IT.
“As marketing and IT continue to intersect, we realized early on the importance of working closely with IT to ensure program alignment and optimal efficiency,” said Brian Krause, VP-marketing and communications at Molex.
Molex's IT unit has assigned relationship managers to various groups within the company, including marketing.
“Molex marketing brings the IT relationship manager in to participate in global and regional meetings, where the manager presents new technology enhancements and future roadmaps, and [explains] how those changes can impact and support the marketing group,” Krause said. “The IT relationship manager then provides feedback to the global IT organization to address global sales and marketing requirements, and implement change if necessary.”