Harvard Prof’s View on the Intersection of Marketing & Technology

Here’s a neat little article from HBS Working Knowledge on what’s happening at the intersection of marketing and technology worlds.

Key points:
  • Within a few years, chief marketing officers will spend more on technology - digital marketing - than CIOs. 
  • Within the $1 trillion marketing industry, the impact of software eating marketing has now reached the board room.
  • Marketing leaders and agencies now carry the burden of understanding technology's impact on their business, the entire customer experience, and leading innovation within their enterprises, not simply following a course set by their IT department.

Interestingly, it took Harvard folks a while to get to this topic. Scott Brinker over at Chief Marketing Technologist has been talking about this topic for over 3 years nowJ (with far more depth I must add).

See these 2 interesting diagrams from CMT blog.

My views:
  • The problem with non-tech folks is – they tend to either grossly underestimate or grossly overestimate the complexity of any tech solution. So, if you are a marketing guy with no-tech background who needs a tech solution – you can be easily taken for a ride by techies or you could miss a gem of a product because of your ignorance.
  • Since marketing folks don’t do a good job of learning technology, techies who have identified niche tech needs of marketing, are taking over. It’s actually very difficult to cross over from marketing to tech, the learning curve is just too steep. On the other hand it’s not too difficult to learn marketing; seriously, most marketing functions are anyways outsourced to agencies and whatever is left in-house is handled by specialists such as web analysts and database marketing consultants, which leaves marketing heads with ample time to go to conferences and share earth shattering insights about social media!
  • But techies who are doing these wonderful things are in minority. In most places, IT is the slowest and the most non-business focused department – according to studies done by Forrester/Gartner (not my view, though I completely endorse it). And who would know this better than the engineers themselves – so, what would they do? The smart ones are starting companies that can empower marketers – without support from IT. Take a look, most of the marketing-tech innovation (the $1 trillion industry referred above) is about taking control away from IT teams and giving it to marketing teams. Examples - SiteApps.com allows marketing teams to put fancy applications on websites without any IT support. SkyGlue allows marketing teams to track/create events in Google Analytics without any support from IT, HubSpot  takes things to an entirely different level. You can create landing pages, microsites, orchestrate an end-to-end digital campaign with zero support from IT if you have HubSpot…there are hundreds of such examples.