By Rich Vancil, GVP, IDC Executive Advisory Group
Evolution of the Marketing Job Function
The most commonly heard word in marketing organizations today? “Transformation.” Dramatic transformational change is sweeping through marketing functions in most industries. And the main “change agent” is the new buyer. Our customers and prospects today are crafting their own routes to learning about products and services. They are capable of educating themselves and learning from peers, and they enter the domain of their vendors as smarter and more empowered. This new dynamic creates volumes of new data and customer intelligence opportunities for vendors. Where did our Buyers come from? What do they know already? How do we really add value to where they are in the process of discovery about our product or service?
With this transformational backdrop, the discipline required to compete as a top-form marketing department today requires equal parts business savvy and marketing creativity. Those in the marketing job function must be able to bring better data into any planning meeting, including discussions on budgets and investments; programs and campaigns; or performance measurement. Hard data needs to complement the “softer side,” or the “art,” of marketing.
The tools for accessing and mining data, and turning data into insights, are now plentiful for today’s marketers. The marketing job function might be the last of all an organization’s major functions to become automated. For decades most other job functions have received the benefit of good software applications — e.g., product design, manufacturing, operations, finance, etc. Fortunately today, software for marketing is being developed at a great pace. Marketers must now rise to the challenge of how to evaluate and deploy a vast array of new applications, including analytics software.
Innovations in Marketing
To their credit, marketing departments of the last decade have been staffing and resourcing for these new business demands. Perhaps the most concrete example is the rise of the “Marketing Operations” role as a staff area. When IDC first began its research on marketing job roles in 2003, Marketing Operations was a role that was nowhere to be found. Today in 2012, Marketing Operations staff is as much as 6% of the full marketing team.
Two other key trends and management issues are leading the “To Do” list of tech marketing organizations right now. The first is the marketing-communications opportunity to deploy digital and social marketing programs at less expense than with traditional media. In IDC’s Best Practice research on marketing, we see that Social Marketing has clearly left its phase as an “experiment,” and is finding its valid place as a contributing member of the marketing mix.
However, the infrastructure and tools that are needed to support these new media have to be in place. IDC research finds that investment is in digital and social marketing infrastructure, and tools are at the top marketing departments’ shopping lists for 2012. Only 34% of marketers surveyed currently agree that they have access to the right information at the right time to support decision making, analysis, planning, or forecasting. As Social Marketing grows, so will the BI tools for harnessing the “Socialytics”: the analysis and interpretation of the social media activity, volume, tenor, and tone. Many of the analytical insights that marketers have harnessed in a B2C setting, where the volume of conversations is high, will find applicability in the B2B world.
The second area of focus for the marketing job function is to work on the numerous innovations that can be created by streamlining data management and work processes with the sales function. When you add together the costs for marketing plus sales at a tech vendor, what is the total cost to “create a customer?” This is the right question to be asking. With improvements in process execution, IDC Research shows that up to 20% of the total marketing-plus-sales costs could be available for cost savings.
Impact of Technology on Marketing
New technology for sales and marketing is going to be the “game changer.” The marketing winners of tomorrow will be masters of rapid data management — able to turn information into intelligence, intelligence into analysis, and analysis into decision support and execution. Achieving this will be the first step in the rudiments of sales-to-marketing cost control, as described above. But there is more to come. With the speed of the available social media “input” to the buyer-customer dialog, the marketing organization will be able to collect and analyze customer sentiment, literally in real time. This will require processing data through to analytics at the speed of customer reaction.
For marketers, there are three critical inter-departmental intersections that need to be either created, cultivated, nurtured, enabled, or exploited. Pick your verb. But marketing is now too important to run in isolation, so here are the three key intersections:
1. The Marketing and IT intersection. New IDC research shows that the investment in marketing automation technologies will be at three to four times the rate of 2011 levels. Think about this. Of all the areas in your company to receive the benefits of software, where is sales and marketing? Most companies have automated finance, operations, manufacturing, and customer service. The last, great wave of automation technology is coming — and it’s going to sweep through sales and marketing over the next 10 years.
2. The Marketing and Sales intersection. Today, marketing departments need to integrate sales technologies, such as CRM, with new marketing-automation technologies. In fact, customer service and marketing analytics were number 1 and number 3, respectively, among the top three applications that respondents to IDC’s SAP HANA Market Assessment survey listed as having the most potential to benefit from in-memory technology.
3. The Marketing and Finance intersection. Marketers need to deliver a return on investment in measurable terms in order to have meaningful budgeting and planning discussions with finance, and also sales stakeholders. Measuring impact of push programs in terms of conversion to leads, opportunities and revenue is the game today. These types of marketing-finance metrics, which follow the key performance indicators of “customer-creation” process from objectives to execution and through to the close of the deal, were the number-two application listed in the aforementioned survey as having the most potential to benefit from in-memory technology.
There is more change today in marketing departments than IDC has seen in the last 10 years. Marketing IT and automation issues are at the forefront for the next generation of successful companies.
This post has been adapted from the IDC Multimedia site sponsored by SAP titled ‘Driving Business Innovation and Improving Job Performance’ (May 2012). To learn more visit the site.