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Forrester: Sell the idea of a marketing technology office to CIOs

Forrester: Sell the idea of a marketing technology office to CIOs

This function would report to the CMO and have control of customer facing technology functions

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Marketing departments should sell the idea of a marketing technology office (MTO) to CIOs, who would have to relinquish control of certain customer-facing technologies and hand responsibility for the function over to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

This is the opinion of Forrester analyst Suresh Vittal who was speaking today in London at Forrester’s EMEA Customer Experience Forum.

Forrester defines a MTO as a centre of excellence that leads technology strategy, develops marketing technologies and evangelises innovations throughout the marketing department.

Vittal used Rubbermaid, a US-based manufacturer, as an example of an enterprise that has decided to create such a function.

“Rubbermaid’s MTO has to help its brands make a value shift from thinking about how their customers could fit into the product lines, to putting the customer at the centre of operations and thinking about what products they could design to suit their customer base,” said Vittal.

“It also has to help Rubbermaid’s brands think about how they share product information in different stages. How do they present content to the consumer when the consumer is researching the product? Or when the consumer is learning to use the product?”

He added: “The third area of responsibility was to identify innovations that happen at the brand level, then take those innovations and wrap them up so other brands can learn from them.”

Rubbermaid’s MTO function reports to the CMO, not the CIO, and the only relationship the CIO has with the department is to ensure that it is complying with the company’s defined IT standards and processes.

Employees in the division include a strategist, database administrators, web developers, application programmers and ‘marketing scientists’.

But what does this mean for a CIO and the IT department? Vittal believes that IT, with a bit of persuasion, will be happy to reassign marketing responsibility to someone else.

He said: “Surprisingly, IT is very willing to give up serving the marketing organisation. Why? Because they aren’t process aligned, they have very different goals, they speak different languages. You do have a challenge in making IT comfortable with this MTO, but you want to set it up with their blessing.

“You want to sell this to the CIO.”

He added: “It’s not an easy conversation, but they start to recognise that some of the needs marketing has – the pace of change that the marketing department is trying to achieve – IT in its current form isn’t set up to do this. Enlightening your CIO on why this matters and why this can be done in a controlled fashion is important.”

Vittal also highlighted that CIOs are becoming increasingly aware of ‘rogue efforts’ from within the marketing department to use IT that is outside the scope of what is being provided by the IT department – using services from the cloud.

Consequently, CIOs and IT departments should look after the infrastructure and back-end systems, while the MTO and CMOs should look after the front-end technology.

Vittal said: “As a rule of thumb I like to think infrastructure technologies, storage systems, authentication systems – these would all be centrally owned. However, channel and customer facing technologies would be owned by the MTO.”

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