An insider's view of how a marketing technology liaison can help align the planets.

Jasper Hortillano, IT Architect, Covalent Marketing

May 19, 2014

5 Min Read

My first marketing meeting was hard. 

As a seasoned IT systems engineer, it was daunting to land on a planet where everything was so alien: the environment, the natives, the way they think and do things, the culture, the language, you name it.

These people wanted to achieve their technology goals without following the software development cycle. They wanted to do all their testing and development of proofs-of-concept designs in a production environment and it blew my mind. I felt intimidated and confused. They were the enemy.

These were my impressions at my previous employer, a large insurance company, when I attended a joint taskforce meeting to find a replacement for marketing's outdated lead generation program.

[IT and marketing are becoming digital business buddies, but data and UX skills are lacking. Read Digital Business Skills: Most Wanted List]

IT and marketing relationships tend to start like this and usually remain status quo, keeping interaction to a minimum. This, of course, ends up hurting marketing technology efficiency since minimal interaction usually means that systems are not optimized, dragging on marketing's ability to release products fast.

The reason for this all-too-common disconnect is because IT is from Mars and marketing is from Venus. Their outlooks, goals, and processes are different. But with the advent of big data and social media, cloud, mobile, and web analytics, it's become more important than ever to close the gap.

Instead of glaring across the universe at each other, marketing and IT should see that they're not only on the same planet, they are building a home there together. Marketing is like a modern designer house and IT makes enterprise marketing management (EMM) the sturdy foundation upon which the house is built.

I've seen a new role evolve from this amalgamation of IT and marketing: what I like to call the marketing technology expert (MTE). This individual is crucial for the success in marketing technology projects and the support that follows, and their expertise is based on both EMM and marketing resource management (MRM).

As a marketing tech expert myself, I've worked in many different IT and marketing departments over the years and performed many tasks and practices to integrate the two species. Here are my top five practices.

5. Know your MRM application like the back of your hand
Sounds obvious, but it's surprising how lackluster some in-house support staffs are in terms of understanding supported applications.. The MTE needs to be able to help with application issues on the fly at the time of need with minimal research. Marketing is all about speed to market, so these MRM/EMM experts are highly valuable.

4. Understand IT and marketing business processes
If you were to visit another planet, how better to get along with the natives than to learn their language and culture? One of the factors that cause friction between IT and business units is the perceived conflict about operational processes. The MTEs are the ambassadors for both planets, able to resolve tech requests like outage, updates, upgrades, implementations -- all without blowing a gasket because they know how the support structure works on both sides. They keep the conversation ongoing about the scope of any joint IT/business company projects. 

3. Establish strong working relationships with IT movers
Sometimes knowing and abiding by set processes can still be painfully slow when trying to resolve issues. Luckily, there will always be people in IT organizations that know the shortcuts or have the muscle to bypass processes altogether. Work your charm and get to know these people. You could even surprise yourself and learn a couple of new things. Business partners will appreciate your ability to work with your organization's IT rock stars to get things done quickly.

2. Create documented support
You can help business clients help themselves. There are application nuances that new users will always ask about, like how to access the application, how to log in, how to personalize what they see, how to create a marketing object, and plenty more. Creating FAQ documents is extremely helpful with adopting applications. Business clients like to have answers in the palm of their hands, so document support information as much as possible and share any applicable information with them.

1. Know your clients and their needs
This is No. 1 because success is judged by your client's standards. Different clients have different needs and therefore have different timeframes for resolving issues in their service level agreements (SLAs). You must know these standards cold while understanding what success factors drive your clients' companies.

You need this information to set expectations that are agreeable to both you and your client so that there's an understanding on how and why things get done in a set amount of time. MTEs have the knowledge to set turnaround timelines for clients that fit with marketing and IT timelines and they also have the IT wherewithal to interact with the client's technical personnel.

A marketing technology expert fills so many roles in an organization that it can feel like you're an interplanetary ambassador. Working with marketing and IT so that they appreciate each other's value is a critical part of the job. Without that cooperation, your company will lose a competitive step, or worse.

Can the trendy tech strategy of DevOps really bring peace between developers and IT operations -- and deliver faster, more reliable app creation and delivery? Also in the DevOps Challenge issue of InformationWeek: Execs charting digital business strategies can't afford to take Internet connectivity for granted.

About the Author(s)

Jasper Hortillano

IT Architect, Covalent Marketing

Jasper Hortillano is IT Architect at Covalent Marketing, a customer intelligence consultancy that helps simplify and strengthen companies' customer interactions and marketing operations.

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