Digital Marketing

Growing your Technical Marketing Organisation and Roles

The last week I have again been reading through the Connect book by Lars Birkholm Petersen et al. which covers the marketing maturity model exercised by the Sitecore SBOS team. Although it is a very good read it does have one very big gap: The lack of focus and attention on the technology powering the modern marketing organisation.

Sitecore Maturity Model

The back cover reads: “Marketing must be faster and more agile than in the past, ready to move rapidly to leverage new technology and stay connected and available to customers”.

In other words: As the marketing operations become more mature the need for quick optimisations and deployment of initiatives, new features, channel support etc. becomes imperative. Marketing technology – if implemented correctly – is sophisticated enough to allow marketers and marketing technologists to adapt and optimise somewhat without the intervention of development or IT. But as the organisation matures and marketing initiatives cover more business critical parts of the customer journeys, the technology touchpoints and requirements will inevitably become more advanced and start spanning more business critical systems and more of integrations. This will require a greater focus on traditional development and IT disciplines – and if these disciplines are not a part of the marketing organisation agility will suffer,

The IT/Marketing Gap is a Maturity Blocker

I have been building marketing solutions for the last 10 to 15 years and have encountered organisations in every end of the maturity scale and ranging from the smallest to the largest organisations in the world.

Over the years, I have experienced that one of the biggest blockers for marketing to realise the full potential of their marketing technology investment – and therefore ultimately a blocker for maturing more rapidly – is the lack of coherence between marketing and technology. The realisation that the IT/Marketing relationship has to be strong and respectful is more and more essential when moving up the maturity scale.

In essence: in a modern and mature marketing organisation, technology is not covered by external roles or organisations but needs to be a part of the marketing team and built into the daily marketing operations.

Growing your Marketing Organisation and Roles

Chapter 12 of the Connect book is titled “Growing Your Organization and Roles” and covers the marketing roles which needs focus in a maturing marketing organisation. The roles covered in the book are:

  • Marketers
  • Digital Analysts
  • Acquisition Marketer
  • Channel Expert
  • Data Analyst or Data Scientist
  • Chief Marketing Technologist
  • Experience Architect

As mentioned, none of these roles are actual technical roles, developing or extending the marketing solution. The following lists the technology roles needed for a modern mature marketing organisation, written in the same format as in the book:

Solution Architect

The Solution Architect is your key to getting off on the right foot and leveraging whatever technology or technologies you choose the right way for the business. This role also makes sure that your governance process and solution is architected in a way which assures the flexibility and agility you need to mature and optimise.

A good solution architect is not only a technologist, understanding the chosen technologies and surrounding systems, but also a person who understands the business and marketing. This is the person which translates your business goals into technology and makes sure that the technology adapts continually.

You need this guy on your team if you want to be successful in the long run.

Skills and Competencies

  • Understands the technology and how to apply it in the business
  • Understands digital marketing and the goals
  • Works in an agile manner and understands the need for flexibility in the technology
  • Strong in communication
  • Practical
  • Quality driven

User Experience Architect

The most flexible part of any marketing solution is customer facing user interface and even if you are dealing with campaign landing pages, email, personalisation, or testing and optimisation, the user experience of your marketing solution will have to be continually changed and adapted.

A User Experience Architect knows the underlying marketing technology and how you will get the most value without rebuilding again and again and again.

Skills and Competencies

  • Strong on digital marketing and information architecture
  • Focus on solving real-world business problems with technology as an enabler
  • Understands the entire technology stack and how it all applies to the user experience
  • Works in an agile manner
  • Quality driven

Content Architect

With the increase of maturity in the marketing organisation and rise of the importance the digital channels it is vital that your valuable content – whether information, merchandising or other – is reusable across digital channels and that the task of creating and maintaining the content is as optimised as possible.

The Content Architect will assure that your organisation has a strong focus on content architecture and organisational processes, including content before presentation.

Skills and Competencies

  • Strong organisational understanding
  • Focus on workflows and business processes
  • Prioritises content over presentation
  • Quality driven

Developer

In a technology stack as deep as in marketing technology ranging all the way from user interface (HTML, Javascript and CSS) and server technology (Java, .NET, PHP, Ruby) down to the service layer and database technologies the developer role can be quite broad and it can be quite a task for a marketing organisation to team up with developers in the entire stack – and in truth, in many scenarios this is not even a viable solution.

This said, all marketing organisations need to comprehend that developers are essential for the long running success of the marketing effort. No marketing solution will run itself after installation so respect the developers and make sure you comprehend what they are doing and understand what they are saying. Your success relies on them doing their best.

Embrace the Technology

Independent of the technology you choose to power your digital business, you will inevitably need to take more and more ownership as your maturity grows. Just like you need more and more focus on growing your marketing team and filling the marketing roles, you will need to embrace the technical roles as part of your team – and unless you embrace this early in the process, technology and the processes around it will only slow you down.On the other hand: if you embrace the technical roles as your own, technology can be the driver to speed your maturity.

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