Seven Ways for Marketers to Collaborate with IT to Create Better Customer Experiences

Customer experience management is fast becoming the core pillar of effective digital marketing and data has a critical role to play.

However, it seems that many marketers do not have access to the data they need to improve customer experience. In our recent research, only 29% of marketers told us that they have access to any kind of data in real-time, which is essential for effective customer experience management.

This move to data-focused strategies is changing the relationship that marketing professionals have with IT and, with IT professionals traditionally the owners of data, a much closer relationship between IT and marketing looks to be essential. 

To impact business results and for success to be achieved, strategies extends far beyond marketing’s access to the right data, with IT as the gatekeepers; in order to use and deploy data and technology effectively the two groups must work together in the right way. 

Our research explored the views of 100 marketing decision makers and 110 IT decision makers to gain a better understanding of how well organisations are coping with this challenge, and how the marketing and IT relationship is evolving. 

Overall, there is clearly a keenness from both groups to work together more closely, but it seems alignment on the objectives and areas of ownership in digital and data strategies is lacking. We have put together some key steps, based on our research findings, to help marketers understand how to work more closely and effectively with the IT department, get the most out of their relationship.

1.     Align from the top

Within most organisations IT and Marketing are already working closely together, but our research shows that full collaboration is lacking and respective goals and objectives are not being shared and understood. Appointing a key stakeholder to bridge the cultural gap with IT is essential. Make sure they have the authority to drive the engagement and align all the teams that work together.

2.     Agree on the customer journey

IT teams can be an asset to the marketing function, but they need to understand the goals of their marketing counterparts and the customer experience they want to provide, both short term and long term. Give them a clear picture of what the customer’s journey looks like today and work with IT to identify improvement areas with respect to gathering the right data that can impact the journey in real time as well as decide on technology enhancements. A dedicated team will add value on an ongoing basis.

3.     Create a mutual digital roadmap

There are key areas, such as content management, ecommerce and mobile strategies, where you might be keeping IT at arm’s length. Be cautious with this approach. The effectiveness of delivery tools and platforms can fail because of a technology and infrastructural misfit. Translate your plans and processes and communicate these effectively into business requirements so your IT team understands the digital roadmap and can support you in buying and implementing the right technologies. Through a mutual digital roadmap, and timeline, the right priorities can be set.

4.     Set the right metrics and data analytics

You’ll likely have access to customer, financial and site analytics on a basic level, but there are more advanced metrics and data analytics that will enable you to build a full understand of (and predictive insights into) your website visitors and the results you should expect. Determine how which data is key for you and your industry, (as an example, I have blogged here previously about what data to look at for a B2B marketing dashboard) for example and you’ll be able to better collaborate with IT by prioritising data integration areas where personalisation and real time marketing can improve conversions and deliver better business results. Metrics and roadmaps to doing this should be mutually developed, as should the measurement metrics, thus driving shared goals. 

5.     Leverage interoperable technology

Integration can be a major obstacle and there is no single technology platform that can cater for every need of every customer. Interoperability and context are key. Look for technologies that give as much control around the context of the customer’s experiences as possible and those that offer the IT department pre-integrated and open standards solutions to reduce the cost and complexity in implementation.  That way, you can increase time to market and an agile way of working and not long integration projects that do not provide business results in near time.

6.     Don’t be afraid of shifting roles

When it comes to holding the tech buying purse strings, it’s likely that you’ll find them in your hands. Gartner has forecast that CMOs will outspend CIOs by 2017 and our research revealed that marketing teams are increasingly taking ownership of marketing technology selection, with IT mainly consulted on specific, probably more complex, data processes. Getting tech-savvy quickly is important for marketing, so find a way to blend your specialist experience with a new technical skill set.

 7.     Use an agile approach to development

The connected consumer is driving the market forward and it’s essential you move at lightning speed to keep up. If you had a three year development plan in 2009, then it’s likely you missed the whole opportunity around tablets. Be more agile and continuously develop and test in collaboration with your IT counterparts and your combined efforts will ensure rapid progress towards the goals that you have set in your mutual digital roadmap.

This blogpost was original published on Econsultancy