Today, marketers rely on technology for almost every aspect of their jobs. In fact, the average enterprise marketing organization uses 91 pieces of cloud-based software to manage their brand–not including an average of 30 additional platforms for social media management. Add to this the over 5000 marketing technology vendors currently in the market–that’s a lot of technology not only for your team to understand and take advantage of but also for leadership to manage, evaluate, and optimize.  Pioneering brands are evolving the role of marketing operations to take on this challenge and create a hybrid marketing-IT function that helps the business transform digitally from the inside out.

 

Marketing Operations

 

Enterprise marketing organizations tend to lean in one of two directions when it comes to managing the software lifecycle–either appointing a procurement lead from the marketing organization or bringing in an IT leader to manage the process.

Marketing-Led Procurement – Many brands will have a marketer lead procurement and implementations for technology acquired for a certain division, team, or region within the marketing organization.

The strength of this approach: the lead has in-depth knowledge of the needs and processes of the marketing team and has buy-in to the long-term success of the chosen solution. However, marketers may bring less enterprise technology buying experience to the table than their IT peers. And, they are often asked to take on this role in addition to their normal job–creating a trade-off between time spent evaluating technology and time spent building the brand.

IT-Led Procurement – Alternatively, when marketing tech procurement is led by the IT function, the process is often more centralized and enterprise-oriented.

The strength of this approach: IT leaders are experienced software buyers, who are great at managing the evaluation and procurement process. However, they tend to have less marketing-specific knowledge and will often move on to projects outside the marketing domain once the software is purchased or implemented.

Both methods have their strengths, but there is an emerging trend toward appointing martech subject matter specialists who sit between the two functions and combine the benefits of each. By some estimates, this can result in a 15-25%improvement in marketing effectiveness. But above and beyond that–marketing operations is a best practice for optimizing the entire marketing technology lifecycle, not just the procurement process.

Discover

Marketing operations professionals proactively work to develop and evolve their understanding of the marketing tech landscape. They actively keep up with industry reports, attend conferences, and research emerging trends and best practices. They are also keyed into the needs of the marketing function and are looking to bridge the gap between what the industry is offering and the business’s biggest challenges.

Procure

Dedicated marketing operations leaders bring technology-buying expertise to the procurement process. They are able to not only identify solutions that best fit the organization’s needs–but also help to align internal stakeholders and build an effective business case for new acquisitions.

Implement

Implementation is possibly the most important stage of the software lifecycle for the long-term ROI of your purchase. But for enterprise brands, software implementation is a massive change management exercise. Marketing operations leaders are uniquely qualified to serve as the central project manager during this process–aligning executive leadership with primary users and vendor representatives.

Maintain

The marketing operations lead is also critical for maintaining the integrity of the software after deployment. They both advocate for on-going adoption and manage the relationship with the vendor’s services team. As new product features are released, they take the lead on communicating updates to and benefits gained by the technology to users and leadership.

Deprecate

Many enterprise organizations overlook the importance of the deprecation process. Is it critical to have a workflow for assessing which parts of your tech stack no longer make sense for your business. And even more, it’s important to consistently identify opportunities for cost savings without adversely affecting any team’s ability to do their job.

The number of marketing technologies available and in use within an enterprise marketing organization seem endless. For enterprise brands looking to maximize the benefits of marketing technology, making marketing operations a more central and strategic part of your organization is key.