The Divide Between Marketing and IT Persists

A new Forrester Research study of about 400 marketing executives indicates that marketers are still searching for better support from their technology organizations. "There's been a lot of talk about the gap, the divide between marketing and IT organizations, and we wanted to measure how wide that gap was," says Tom Pohlmann, a Forrester Research vice president. "We have been talking in this sector about business and IT alignment for 20 to 25 years, and still that alignment is not completely there." Some early attempts at gaining traction for marketing automation tools were delayed by poor adoption rates, but that barrier has been lowered. "Marketing people, at least the ones we surveyed here, feel pretty tech-savvy," he says. And the problem does not appear to be one of being denied proper access to technology. In 63 percent of surveyed companies, marketing bore primary responsibility for setting the marketing technology agenda, compared to 32 percent where IT held the majority of influence. Marketers do understand the problems they need technology to help solve. Particularly among companies with a B2C component to their business, nearly four in five nominated channel management as a problem. Of those firms seeing channel management challenges, it was their highest-ranked issue. "Channel mix has been a problem for a long time, and it stems from the fact that it's so difficult to measure, and has suffered from the fact that so many channels in large companies are stovepiped," Pohlmann says. One startling component of the Forrester data is that fully half of all B2B companies surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with the quality and availability of customer data, yet at B2C firms only one in three disapproved. According to Pohlmann, this is one area of business-enabling technology where B2B firms lag their counterparts. "Early customer data warehouse efforts were in very consumer-oriented industries, such as airline, consumer banking, and gambling," he says. "It's maturity. B2B companies have lagged behind in implementing centralized control over customer information, which is why they say they're more likely to invest going forward." "We were surprised to see less interest and worry in compliance issues, such as Do-Not-Call or CAN-SPAM," Pohlmann says. Fewer than half of the executives surveyed indicated that legislation impact on marketing was a concern, and even among those who did, it received their lowest priority rating. This may reflect a lag in awareness of the potential challenges, or some suspicion about the federal government's commitment to the policies. "There is certainly some skepticism around whether these regulations will come to fruition," Pohlmann says.
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