If marketers are buying technology, they should learn agile as well

Keep your customers close, and keep your internal customers even closer: Before a lot of money and effort gets spent on technology, marketers should look at agile methodologies.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

It's well-known by now that marketing leaders are overseeing technology budgets that rival those of IT executives. As we've said here before, we aren't just witnessing the growth of "shadow IT," we're seeing the development of full-fledged parallel IT departments within organizations.

Along with procuring, managing and upgrading technology services, non-IT executives also need to borrow another important page from their IT counterparts: start thinking agile. That is, keep your customers close, and keep your internal customers even closer. That means working in tandem with end-users to build solutions that work for everyone in rapid iterations, as well as working closely with IT itself.

If you're going to go digital, you have to start adhering to the agile principles that IT leaders and professionals have been adopting and honing over the past few years. Seth Earley of Earley & Associates points to some of the agile thinking that marketers need to adopt to effect successful technology projects in a recent post:

"Marketers need to be intimately involved in IT processes. They need to work closely with the CIO, and, if the role exists, the CDO (Chief Data Officer). Marketing is increasingly data-driven, and data quality will be essential to marketing success... Technology is the vehicle through which marketing delivers its messaging and engages with customers. Marketing leaders need to understand technical capabilities at a meaningful level."

As seasoned CIOs know, developing technical capabilities isn't about buying technology or technology services and simply dropping it all down on the organization, in hopes of auto-magically boosting profits and productivity. It takes close work with the organization, understanding its processes, and adapting or changing processes that don't work. It means helping the business configure itself to be more productive and forward-looking. Technology is only a tool to help make things happen.

At the same time, Earley relates, marketing leaders need to also be part of the selection process for new technology platforms and infrastructure, as well as assume roles as "digital architects." They are increasingly working with data from a variety of sources, and need to understand what data is meaningful for their businesses -- customer patterns, metrics and so on -- and put the best tools in place to analyze and manage this data. Marketers are urged to create a consistent view of the customer through "an enterprise view of taxonomy, metadata, and information architecture as a foundation."

(Thumbnail photo: HubSpot.)

Editorial standards