Increasing marketing technology investments are demanding more involvement from IT leaders to enable marketing to achieve full business value from its investments. This year, IT leaders supporting marketing will need to build a stronger partnership with marketing and help to evaluate solutions (architecture, functionality, scalability, performance and security), source data, manage and consolidate the application portfolio, and integrate solutions, says Gartner.
"Marketing continues to be a hot area of IT investment and technology innovation with a rapidly growing application portfolio that demands greater integration and focused investment," says Kimberly Collins, research vice president at Gartner. "IT leaders supporting marketing will need to develop a strong relationship with marketing leaders to help marketing derive the full potential from its IT investments."
The analyst firm has made a number of predictions about marketing technology investments, including:
By 2018, CIOs who build strong relationships with CMOs will drive a 25 percent improvement in return on marketing technology investment. Marketing is a high area of technology investment, and that investment continues to grow rapidly with digital marketing expansion. Gartner says many large companies, particularly business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, have more than 50 applications and technologies supporting marketing. Managing this portfolio and generating customer value from these technologies requires a more integrated and consolidated approach, but not at the expense of marketing's ability to innovate in digital marketing.
"To generate greater business value, IT leaders need to work more closely with marketing to determine where IT leads versus where marketing leads and how both can work more effectively together," says Collins. "An integrated marketing management (IMM approach) that leverages a Pace-Layered Application Strategy can be invaluable to helping IT leaders derive more value for their marketing leaders."
By 2018, B2B sellers that incorporate personalization into digital commerce will realize revenue increases up to 15 percent. Personalization enhances the relationship between a buyer and seller, making the buyer feel recognized, appreciated, respected and efficient. Today's consumers expect recognition, to be valued and to have a personalized experience; they have little tolerance for inefficiency. These expectations will be even higher for business buyers who typically have longer-standing relationships with their suppliers and spend higher amounts with them.
Personalization also enables sellers to remain competitive and drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy as well as increase profitability. Consumers who have personalized experiences spend more. Companies that incorporate personalization into B2B digital commerce strategies will make their business customers more efficient, provide a better customer experience and increase the likelihood of greater purchase value as well as upselling and cross-selling — all leading to greater revenue.
"The foundation on which personalization should be incorporated for business buyers is efficiency and effectiveness because business buyers are typically working under pressure and with deadlines," says Penny Gillespie, research director at Gartner. "Personalization would then be developed based on available customer preference settings in the digital commerce platforms, creating or identifying merchandise affiliation, and incorporating behavior-based learning from other customers along with specific customer knowledge and information."
Through 2018, voice of the customer (VoC) initiatives that don't share data across the enterprise will compromise customer satisfaction and loyalty measures by 30 percent. VoC solutions collect, analyze and act upon the vast array of customer feedback sources that are potentially available, ranging from surveying to social media to speech analytics. It is an increasingly popular area of focus due to the business value that is obtained from acting upon the derived insights. However, VoC's ownership is currently inconsistent with different constituents who are taking responsibility within different organizations.
"A VoC initiative will reveal useful insights that are linked to the brand, products, campaigns, geographical markets and competitors, but without a pan-enterprise positioning as part of a strategic customer experience management (CEM) initiative, the true benefit of VoC can be stifled," explains Jim Davies, research director at Gartner. "IT leaders supporting CRM can help different areas of the organization leverage VoC solutions. For example, if marketing deploys a solution, then IT can help to leverage the solution and the insights that it generates for customer service as well as work with customer service to integrate relevant customer insights and data into the customer service applications."
VoC is one area where IT leaders can demonstrate their importance to the organization through their understanding of the different technologies that are deployed across the different business units and through their ability to provide a more integrated solution that focuses on the customer and not just one business domain. Ultimately, IT's role will be to help support a corporate wide VoC initiative regardless of who owns it.