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IT And Marketing: How Digital Media's Changing The Relationship

The pressure is on to show measurable results from campaigns. That should make IT and marketing teams closer partners than they are.

The Marketing Arms Race

Marketing technologies are essentially following the same path as many other enterprise technologies have followed: Point software tools are becoming modules in more comprehensive suites, with the promise of easier and tighter integration and improved visibility across activities. That's the theme from big Web analytics vendors Adobe and WebTrends, which have announced their intentions to span social, mobile, and Web analytics.

It's noteworthy that IBM, SAS, and Teradata say they will maintain the brands and standalone business status of their Unica, Assetlink, and Aprimo acquisitions. It's an admission that marketers prefer to deal with specialized marketing firms, not IT behemoths.

IT services firms are targeting marketing analytics as well. IBM, for one, recently started an e-commerce practice that leverages its Unica (integrated marketing), Coremetrics (Web analytics), and Sterling Commerce (order management and supply chain) acquisitions, with a focus on mobile and social networks.

In this transition to digital marketing, IT organizations need to step forward. Many a marketing department subscribed to without involving IT. In the CMO Council/Accenture survey, only one-fourth of marketers said they consult enterprise IT, contact center, and back office groups when selecting and deploying marketing software. Almost half of the marketers surveyed (46%) don't think their CIO understands marketing objectives.

If IT is going to be relevant, it needs to show it can help marketing teams with information management (integrating, cleansing, and enriching data) and the analytics of modeling and testing results. Marketing has been a data-driven discipline for a long time, but the number of data sources keeps multiplying and the richness and volume of data keeps growing. The IT jobs tied to supporting those efforts will stay in house only if IT teams bring a unique understanding of the company's products and strategy. If not, that work will swing to outsourcers with specialized expertise.

As for the marketers, IT must remember that only one thing motivates their technology choices. "Marketers don't wake up in the morning and say, 'I want to get integrated,'" Raab says. "They wake up and say, 'I want to make money.' They don't want to run cross-channel campaigns because they think they're cool. They do it because [the campaigns] give them a lift on their results."

If IT teams can deliver that lift, through better targeting, more efficient campaign execution, and more measurable results, they'll be invited to the digital marketing table.

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