Why marketers should never become IT professionals
What you often encounter is that organizations – large or small – have decided to focus on a data-oriented strategy. “We have so much information on our customers, yet still every time we approach them we act like we have never seen them before. Both online and on location. 'I think it is great, such insights. Nevertheless, things are not worked out the way they should be…’
The intended decision has been made. Stakeholders are brought together. IT, data, marketing, sales. Sometimes multiple roles within one position. Usually a project manager is added and the project can start. The business argues how relationships are better served when you understand relations better. That should be reflected in communication, in the message, the offer, the timing, in the channel that is used. Examples are mentioned. Well, examples apply to smaller organizations, the bigger companies work out use cases in Powerpoint or Excel, including all Requirements. So far, a perfect preparation. Everything fine. And then what? Then IT professionals and other supporting stakeholders take over…
The All-in-one data model
The requirements of the business are ‘melted down into zeros and ones in no time. Customer data turns out to be collected in many more systems than expected, and also at many different suppliers. That should be dealt with and be ‘squeezed’ into one model. A data model. Uncluttered. To determine the ultimate truth. One platform, one ‘single source of truth’, with beautiful dashboards, so we can see how our customers act in 360 degrees and how they are hanging in there. Once finished, the marketers and salespeople can get to work. We, the IT professionals, have made it easy for them.
Processes take over
In short, if you’re not careful, whether you’re in a large or medium-sized organization, before you know it, processes take over every sense of business. Processes can be clearly formulated. Business is vague, so from now on just follow processes. Many marketers have discussions with IT on data that does not fit the ‘data model’… But hey, computer says no. Please, let’s not forget all those processes are only there to help. Help us very well as a matter of fact. To make things transparent and manageable. But above all to promote our commercial creativity. Not the other way around.
360-Customer View and Single Source of Truth?
Expressions like a 360-degree view and a single source of truth simply have different meanings for IT professionals and marketers. For marketers, they are literally expressions. Concepts that help focus on a strategy, not mathematics. How would we record the ultimate truth in our database, while everything around us constantly turns out to be more nuanced then we thought? I understand IT enjoys terms like 360-degrees and single sources of truth and have difficulties translating the Powerpoint slides of marketers on Personas and Customer Journeys. But Marketing and Sales really is a profession and so much more than a central database, data warehouse , CRM or whatever.
I must confess, we marketers are to blame. We invented expressions like 360-degree views in relation to customers. We actually meant we want to know more about our customers. That is why we collect and use as much information as possible. Marketing and Sales are looking for leads, for sales opportunities. Knowing they need data to help them.
Business in the lead
So by doing that, I am also half IT professional myself. The power of integrated customer data and automation for a personal customer approach has been proven. What is important is that someone with business sense is constantly in the lead. Preferably people who have scored orders themselves. Then, an efficient central database, BI dashboarding and heavily guarded data principles and procedures are not leading. They help finding opportunities and activating them. They are not the objective of a major IT project. The objective should be to enable the business to deal with customer data, in order to better serve customers and prospects. That’s not science, it’s a continuous quest for new business or the right message at the right time.