When Marketers Run Technology, Where Does IT Fit?

Yes, even as CMOs expand their control over marketing technology, there remains a role for IT in the process.

Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary

January 28, 2019

3 Min Read

Chief marketing officers have been at the forefront of helping their organizations navigate a digital revolution that’s fundamentally reshaped how brands cultivate and engage with customers. As they attempted to master leveraging a proliferation of customer touchpoints in smart, relevant ways to deliver growth, CMOs and their teams amassed a broad swath of new marketing technologies.

There are now thousands of software vendors across dozens of categories catering directly to the marketer as a buyer of technology. In fact, according to Gartner’s 2018-2019 CMO Spend Survey, technology now accounts for 29% of the marketing budget, taking share away from areas like agencies, paid media, and labor when compared with last year’s allocations. CMOs say that they’re increasing their marketing technology budgets to compete more effectively, plug critical capability gaps, and deliver more personalized experiences. And, they view marketing technology acquisition and use as a vital capability to deliver against their goals over the next year.

Marketers’ strategic reliance on what we call “martech” also requires greater deployment and usage flexibility. In a separate Gartner Marketing Technology Survey, marketing leaders told us that they’re taking on more responsibilities for managing technology. Overall, 74% of marketers say they’re primarily responsible for technology management for their team. An additional 23 percent said they split martech management duties down the middle with IT. Only 3% were comfortable outsourcing the job to a group entirely external to marketing.


If marketing owns technology management for their area of the business, does that mean IT is out of the picture? Not at all. Our study found that more often than not, there is extensive IT involvement across several martech-related activities, including vendor evaluation, configuration, deployment and integration. IT can help marketers focus by selecting technology that supports business capabilities instead of buying tech for the sake of tech.

IT is also valuable in providing strategic advice on contracting, vendor management, scalability requirements and security and privacy practices. Specifically, with the introduction of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, global marketers must re-examine their privacy and data management practices. The IT organization can provide critical guidance to comply with these privacy requirements, assure that existing marketing systems and database are secure and assist in closely evaluating new vendors.

We find that the most successful collaborations between marketing and IT involve shared business and technical ownership of key marketing applications, as well as shared metrics that focus on key business outcomes. Ultimately, delivering a holistic customer experience goes well beyond the function of marketing. As IT pursues more digital transformation initiatives that cut across the enterprise and touch the customer, they should learn from marketers’ own experiences as well as collaborate with them to drive innovation and growth.

As a Research Director at Gartner, Bryan Yeager focuses on digital marketing technology, strategy and emerging trends at. He helps marketers assess and prioritize the platforms, tools and services they can use to achieve their companies' business objectives today and in the future. Brian has close to 10 years of experience analyzing and reporting on the intersection of technology, marketing, media and commerce. Prior to joining Gartner, he developed in-depth reports, forecasts and presentations on emerging trends and platforms as a Senior Analyst at eMarketer.

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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary

The InformationWeek community brings together IT practitioners and industry experts with IT advice, education, and opinions. We strive to highlight technology executives and subject matter experts and use their knowledge and experiences to help our audience of IT professionals in a meaningful way. We publish Guest Commentaries from IT practitioners, industry analysts, technology evangelists, and researchers in the field. We are focusing on four main topics: cloud computing; DevOps; data and analytics; and IT leadership and career development. We aim to offer objective, practical advice to our audience on those topics from people who have deep experience in these topics and know the ropes. Guest Commentaries must be vendor neutral. We don't publish articles that promote the writer's company or product.

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