Still, despite realizing productivity gains his marketing technology investments, Troiano says data integration and unified user experience are both lacking across the pieces he's assembled. This year, he hopes to improve integration for the reporting and tracking function across products to better monitor the customer journey at all touchpoints, so he can measure what and who works effectively.
IT's new opportunity comes from its historical strength
For most companies, systems integration is very complex, involving existing back-end operations such as supply chain management, inventory management, and order management; customer-facing interactions such as marketing campaigns, customer support, and company websites; and the analytics that marketing uses to understand and tune all the pieces in that whole customer experience, notes Paul Papas, head of global e-commerce at IBM.
Because of the complexity involved, marketing can't do it alone -- it needs IT.
IT's focus is typically on the so-called back-end infrastructure, so companies that have in-house IT integration skills can help marketing meet its complex integration challenges. This, according to Accenture, means providing a unified network and data infrastructure that link data housed across the organization, often in different forms, as well as information held outside the company so they can be tracked and analyzed. As you'd expect, the traditional IT systems vendors -- such as Adobe Systems, BMC, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and SAP -- are working to retune their offerings for the new types of data and customer interactions.
But integrating and modernizing existing information systems will take years because "most large enterprises heavily customize their CRM products or create their own combination of homegrown and package-based solutions," says Chris Davey, global head of customer engagement platforms at the digital marketing consultancy SapientNitro.
IT has historically created the infrastructure for structured data, such as those held in ERP systems and data warehouses, used for financial reporting or to look at past transactions for uncovering changes in customer purchases or comparing projections to reality. But IT has little experience in bringing in data from the outside or from customer touchpoints, such as analyzing website behavior prior to purchase or understanding the behaviors that customers go through before ever coming to a business's website. That's where big data technology comes in, so businesses can get insights from new data sources. As the name "big data" implies, there's a lot of such data, and being able to sift through it in the more exploratory fashion appropriate to marketing analysis requires different technologies and information management skills than IT has typically needed.