October 16, 2015

Working on your marriage with IT

By Paul Laughlin

iStock photoHow well do you get on with your IT team? Do you see them as part of your team & you as part of theirs in a shared endeavour? If your answer was to laugh ironically, you are like many who attended DataIQ Link event this week.

The third in our series on events focussed on internal partners for Customer Insight leaders. After Customer Experience & Digital, we now turn our focus to IT. In a “first of its kind” event, DataIQ designed an agenda for delegates to hear from both Marketing & IT leaders of keynote case studies. The formula worked well and was clearly well received.

Tweeting actively during the day (as I now do at events), you can follow my thoughts on the day by searching #DataIQLink for @LaughlinPaul. Now having more time to reflect, here are the key learning points that I took away…

  • We kicked off with the normal witty intro from David Reed, reminding us that CMOs are starting to make the largest technology spend decisions in C-Suite. The theme of this event has come out of research by Gartner, who will also be restructuring their events to combine Marketing & IT joint content. Clearly with so much investment & requirement at stake, a healthy marriage between IT & Marketing should matter to businesses.
  • The first keynote speaker was Thomas Barta, a former McKinsey partner now focussed on helping senior leaders achieve their potential. It was great to hear that many of his messages echo themes we’ve explored on this blog. Thomas stated the biggest challenge that Marketing leaders now faced was getting value out of data. To achieve this he highlighted that businesses need expert leaders who can make an impact. He rightly highlighted the problem that too many organisation’s performance management systems reward generalists over experts. But he also observed that the biggest driver of success for expert leaders was not their level of technical expertise, rather their leadership skills. This accords with the need we have highlighted for softer skills for analysts & insight leaders to impact their organisations. Finally, he shared a useful list of advice for effective expert leadership:
  1. Tackle only ‘big issues’, those which are priorities for the CEO (as we’ve stressed in how to influence the top table);
  2. Don’t ask for promotion, ask to lead big issue projects (be brave with your proposed approach to offer help);
  3. Use storytelling to get across your message (also a key theme for customer insight leaders);
  4. Don’t go it alone, start a movement (start dancing alone – i.e. pilot and encourage others to participate);
  5. Stay on purpose, inspire people with your passion for clear priorities (and avoid distractions).
  • After the encouragement of that keynote, Selligent shared a useful reminder as to how the world of advertising is changing due to technological changes. Interesting examples from the use of social currency (recommendations, content, etc) to pay for goods, to the power of Internet of Things to enable provision of services to consumer when they want to get that job done (e.g. Amazon Dash buttons).
  • Marketing & IT leaders from the National Trust, shared how they had effectively worked together. It was interesting to note that their no.1 rule for an effective marriage between Marketing & IT is to share the same objective. As I’ve found before when leading Database Marketing teams, being ‘on the spike’ for the same commercial targets as sales or marketing teams makes a huge cultural difference.
  • Later, I popped into a panel session on Data Scientists. This was the only session with which I disagreed. Far too much hyperbole as to the need for this role & confusion over where such computer science skewed roles are needed verses statisticians or good quality marketing analysts. Hope this technology-driven-trend dies down soon & we can all focus on that customer insight skills that make a difference in businesses.
  • Calming down, a seminar on data regulation was actually really interesting. Honest! Data IQ & DMA reps shared the highlights of EU data protection regulation likely to be implemented next year and require compliance from 2018. Explicit consent for analysis use of data & the need for larger firms to have a Data Protection Officer are just two parts. The ICO guidance on this is useful but dull. You are better checking out DataIQ’s Radar service to check the impact for you. Also consider whether government funding could help (Cyber Essentials) and if your customers would be reassured by you achieving FairData or DataSeal marques.
  • Back to keynote speakers, it was also useful to hear from Andrew Buckley of MasterCard. Agile development methodologies were referenced by many speakers. Andrew, who also has an academic roles, is helping inform us all by robust research on collaboration (or not) between Marketing & IT in today’s businesses. First finding of this research to date is that 100% of companies have some difficulties in this relationship. Andrew has found it helps to train marketers in the IT method & IT leaders in user needs (or Customer Insight). He has also found that face to face meeting & collaboration seems to be required by those who did better.
  • A quick techie panel on data security shared that disturbing statistic that 40% of men leaving a business self report that it is their right to take client contacts details with them.
  • A useful final keynote (for me at least) was from Robbie Burgess of RELX Group. She alone amongst the day’s speakers has the joy of being both Marketing & IT leaders for that business. She also made much reference to agile development methodologies and how those can help foster collaboration & progress (when trained effectively). Robbie also raised the importance of considering your data team as a third-party in this relationship & then need for all 3 to work together (I felt like cheering). Given the risks involved, a trifecta was a good term for the joining needed between Data, Marketing & IT teams. She stressed that without all 3 delivering and being treated with respect, organisations will fail. Robbie also shared the importance of the cultural attitude of seeing yourself as part of these other teams & they as part of yours. Shared goals & ‘in it together‘.

Apologies for a longer the usual post, but there were so many learning points from this useful event. Hope it’s useful & if you were there too, please add your comments.

Have you got a good relationship between #data, #marketing & #IT teams? If not you'll fail. Click To Tweet

Have you got a good relationship between Marketing, IT & Data/Insight teams? If so, please share your marriage tips!