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Marketing and IT—no longer frenemies?



(photo by livegym-showtime on Flickr)


I saw an article the other day about how marketing and IT must work together in the future.  Having been a marketing guy for the last 10 years, I have to agree. 


Exactly how would I like to see marketing and IT work together in the future?


Data analysis of transactional data

A recent survey by The Economist found that 75 percent of businesspeople felt they would benefit from better data analysis. I agree. It always seems so difficult to get the right data. It often felt to me as if IT thought that the job was done once the business application was released. But for the business, there is huge value in analyzing the data that the application generates.


In the future, the area of data analysis will require even more IT investment. Big Data is a big trend, though still somewhat ill defined. But one aspect on which everyone can agree is that we will store a lot more transaction data. In other words, we will get a finer-grain view of the transactional aspects of our world. This will allow us to “micro-market” (allowing us to market at the community level) and “micro-campaign” (as Obama’s team did in the 2012 US elections). So IT and marketing need to work more closely on Big Data transactional analysis. 


Creating systems that take action automatically

However, things must move beyond just analysis. We will create systems that use analysis and from this, take action—automatically.


When we get a fine level of detail as to what’s going on with our products, IT and marketing can create “control systems” that take action. For example, these systems could automatically change prices or run promotions and campaigns.


Linking to unstructured data

In the future, we will need to create systems that not only analyze our transactional data, but also relate this data to social media interactions. This allows marketing to learn all sorts of things about their products:


  • How are they trending? Do people like them? (This analysis needs to be regional too. We may have made mistakes marketing to a specific region, religion or culture, for example.)
  • How are the competitors trending? Are people saying that competing products are better?
  • Are there quality issues? 
  • Are people using our products in ways we didn’t think of

Social media analysis is also able to alert to impending problems (or opportunities) ahead of transactional data.


Again, we can put this “sentiment analysis” system onto auto-pilot, only alerting us if the unexpected occurs. 


Moving from “random acts of lead generation” to a digital relationship with customers

In a marketing person’s dream scenario, a customer visits the company website, which immediately recognizes them and uses their history to assist them (selling lots of product and service in the process, naturally). 


This is all about using customer data to understand their habits and their current state, then market to them in a way that best suits their needs.


Such a system won’t become real without a lot of help from IT. While some online retailers have solutions like these already, many enterprises do not.


Cool applications sell—provided they link back to corporate IT

I think we already know this instinctively: Cool apps often “encourage” us to buy more and they make us more loyal. Recent research from Forrester confirms this (The Business Impact of Customer Experience, 2012 by Megan Burns, March 26, 2012).


Apps are great, of course, but they are not enough. HP’s applications group frequently comes across marketing teams that paid a third-party development company to create a “cool mobile app.” But then the marketing team said, “And now, phase 2: Please connect the app to our corporate IT systems.” This is, of course, something the third party can’t do without help from IT. 


Marketing will get someone to build apps—with or without IT’s help. Much better that IT and marketing work together—perhaps with a bunch of cool dudes in black T-shirts and jeans—to create compelling, useful apps that link into corporate IT and help users get things done.


Looking to the future…

Technology is likely to transform marketing in these ways:


  • Finer grain transactional data collection and analysis will mean that marketing can market on a micro level, adjusting packaging, pricing and promotions to suit local conditions—at the press of a button.


  • Analysis that links transactional and unstructured data will allow marketers to glean insights that they can’t get from transactional data alone.


  • Control systems will allow computers to analyze the transactional and unstructured data and take automated action (such as triggering a campaign or promotion), provided everything is normal. These systems will only alert humans when unexpected issues arise. 


  • Customer interaction systems will know about customers’ habits and current state and give them the best advice based on this information. A series of interactions would then build into an electronic customer journey.


  • Cool, useful multi-device applications will generate competitive advantage and customer loyalty.


Read the Marketing 20/20 chapter and tell us what you think!

The Marketing 20/20 chapter of our Enterprise 20/20 vision for the future discusses this and many other aspects of marketing.


Author : Mike Shaw

Mike Shaw
Director Strategic Marketing

linkedin.gifMike Shaw

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About the Author


Mike has been with HPE for 30 years. Half of that time was in research and development, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product management, product marketing, and now, strategic marketing. .

sumit raju

I really liked this artic, its really interesting and I found it very captivating to read.


Love this post, and also love Moomin!

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