Marketing and IT functions need to work together more closely to achieve the quality of digital infrastructure their organizations need to succeed in an increasingly unforgiving world, according to new research published this week by ClickZ Intelligence.
A survey of both senior marketing and IT professionals has revealed that there are significant differences between these two core business functions in their perception of organizational priorities and the quality of digital infrastructure. Governance frameworks to ensure better alignment between the CMO and CIO are often lacking.
The Backbone of Digital  report, freely available from ClickZ (registration required), has also found that, compared to their colleagues in marketing, IT professionals have a much rosier view of the customer experience their companies are delivering across digital channels.
IT pros have exaggerated view of the quality of their companies’ current infrastructure
According to the research, 88% of IT respondents describe their company’s infrastructure as ‘cutting-edge’ or ‘good’, compared to only 61% of marketing-focused respondents, a massive difference of 27 percentage points.
The research also looks at the ability of tech infrastructure to deliver across a range of marketing communications channels, with IT respondents and marketers both asked to rate performance.
Both marketers and IT professionals felt that the best engagement and experience is delivered across desktop, cited as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ by 71% and 93% of these groups respectively, but trailed by other channels including mobile website, mobile app, desktop display, mobile display, social and push messaging.
Across the board it is evident that those working in IT have a much more optimistic view of how well they are delivering across the full gamut of digital channels compared to their IT counterparts.
It seems likely that those working in more customer-facing departments, i.e. marketers (generally), are much more likely to be aware of deficiencies impacting customer experience which can adversely affect business performance and brand reputation (and often their own bonuses).
A lack of co-operation is undermining excellence in digital delivery
Just 19% of marketers strongly agree with the statement “marketing and IT work closely together to ensure the best possible delivery of product/service”, and only 11% strongly agreed that they “have a clear governance framework to ensure that CIOs/CTOs and CMOs work together effectively”, suggesting a lack of alignment around marketing and IT business objectives.
This compares to 45% of IT professionals who strongly agreed that “marketing and IT work closely together to ensure the best possible network performance”, and a similar percentage (46%) who strongly agreed that they “have a clear governance framework to ensure that front-end business applications and back-end infrastructure work together effectively”.
While there are differing perceptions about the extent of marketing and IT co-operation, the report concludes that business objectives need to be much better aligned to ensure closer harmony across these core business functions. If a framework to facilitate this is not put in place at the top of the organization, it becomes exponentially more difficult to implement lower down.
Speed of data-processing is crucial – real-time means real-time
Marketers are increasingly aware that the proliferation of data sources at their disposal is only of use to their businesses if they can analyse that information at high speed and transform it into the kind of intelligence that can then manifest itself as the most relevant and personalized messaging or call to action for any given site visitor.
According to Mike Plimsoll, Product and Industry Marketing Director at Adobe:
“A couple of years ago the marketing leaders at our biggest clients typically expected that data could be processed within 24 hours and that was fine.
“Now when we talk to our clients the expectation is that data is processed instantly so that when, for example, a customer engages with them on the website, the offer has been instantly updated based on something they’ve just done on another channel. All of a sudden ‘real-time’ really does mean ‘real-time’.”
The ability to harness ‘big data’ has become a pressing concern for IT departments as their colleagues in marketing departments seek to ensure they can take advantage of both structured and unstructured data and ensure the requisite speeds for real-time optimization of targeting, messaging and pricing.
More than half of IT respondents (56%) said that the ability to manage and optimize for big data was currently a ‘very relevant’ topic for their organization, in addition to 37% who said it was ‘quite relevant’.
According to Chris O’Hara, Head of Global Data Strategy at Krux Digital:
“Today, consumers that are used to perfect product recommendations from Amazon and movie recommendations from Netflix expect their online experiences to be personal, email messages to be relevant, and web experiences customized.
“Delivering good customer experience has the dual effect of increasing sales lift, and also reducing churn by keeping customers happy. Things like latency, performance, and data management are all part and parcel of delivering on that concept.”
Please download our Backbone of Digital  research which, as well as a survey of marketing and IT professionals, is also based on in-depth interviews with senior executives at a number of well known organizations.
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