If you are part of a marketing team or have been working closely with one for a few years, you may agree that so much has changed over the past 10 years and a lot more is changing continuously. Even professionals who started their careers in the past two to four years have seen immense changes in how objectives are defined and in the tools used to achieve them. Across organisations, team members are now doing things never heard of before in business schools and people are making careers in functions that did not exist when they graduated.
Tools like social media posting platforms and analytics, lead management for assisted sales, order management systems for e-commerce, dashboards to monitor marketing performance or IT infrastructure uptime and stability (making sure networks are running, and servers are not overloaded, etc) are all representative of a new world of tech that is increasingly connected to every major customer touchpoint. In some cases, these tools also control the primary customer interface. All this has led to the development of a function that would normally have been embedded within the team responsible for managing the IT infrastructure.
If you are a digitally-led business (e.g. Careem, Eat Mubarak, TapMad or Sehat Kahani) you may choose to vest the construction of your assets and its performance management in a product team (responsible for building and managing the product as part of the user experience). The product team would be responsible for managing the app, the software the app is connected to, the databases and the operational flow; in short, the team is dedicated to creating an amazing product and making sure it is always up and running. In principle, such a team would be strong technology, data management and software development led team and would have its own set of products (mostly performance monitoring products) embedded in the site/app to help them monitor and review performance on a periodic basis. This will also help them identify issues that may arise and address them immediately. The product is then pushed to the end consumers by the marketing team responsible for acquiring and retaining users and driving revenue from them.
This is where Mar-Tech comes in (Mar-Tech refers to technology that is aimed at solving marketing related challenges). In this space, the product or the IT could be involved. All this requires an enterprising and analytical mindset along with an ability to understand the technical execution of a campaign, along with a business planning mindset. This essentially means that tech and marketing have to fundamentally work as a single strong team to achieve these goals.
Enter the role of the marketing technology function. Some organisations tend to keep this function either within the IT or the marketing team. While some organisations keep this arrangement informal, others have set up a dedicated department with Chief Marketing Technology Officer, a role that is meant to be a bridge between the technology and the marketing functions in order to enhance collaboration and foster a deeper understanding of the functional constraints and existing architecture challenges. This person is typically someone who comes from a business and technology analyst background and analytics and typically does not need to have an IT background or even know programming. The objective of this function is to provide a dedicated space for all marketing technology requirements, thereby ensuring the most effective use of the tools at hand, rather than add multiple tools.
Another core challenge for most organisations is data and its use. Be it CRM systems, loyalty systems, POS (point of sale terminals) systems or even supply chain systems (systems that help companies plan supply and demand across multiple divisions of the business and therefore enable efficient logistics). All these platforms have their own datasets which are usually disparate from each other. Add customer browsing, social media and purchase behaviour and you have a completely different data pool. The ability to collect, sanitise, unify, enrich and distribute this data using multiple tools with the ability to use these datasets together can place a business at a great advantage with respect to enhancing ROI.
A typical marketing technology person will first take stock of what is in place and (in view of the business goals) what needs to be tweaked or added. Nothing that the marketing technology function does is outside the scope of where marketing and IT intersect. In fact, this function is designed to make them intersect a lot more than they ordinarily would. The end result (overlapping functions and capabilities) can lead to quick wins for almost any consumer facing product or service.
Although so far very few digital businesses have created a dedicated marketing technology function, more and more organisations have started to adopt this trend. The importance of hiring smart marketers with a strong digital understanding cannot be underscored. This said, the role of a marketing technologist may only last for the next 10 years as marketers become more and more tech savvy and start to adopt these skills faster.
Imtiaz Noor heads OrangeFox, a marketing technology company focused on making digital businesses more efficient. firstname.lastname@example.org