Forrester Research: Marketing is an IT spending blackhole


Forrester Research: Marketing is an IT spending blackhole

Cliff Saran

Analyst Forrester Research is holding a roundtable meeting to bring together chief marketing officers and chief information officers, in a bid to bridge the divide between IT and marketing departments.

Up to 20 CIOs and CMOs are attending the event at Forrester's London office. "This is our first attempt to cross the IT and marketing border," said Simon Yates, CIO at Forrester (pictured). "The pace of change is speeding up. After driving down cost CIOs now want to be a source of innovation. And the best source of innovation outside new products is marketing."

Luca Paderni, vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester, said: "The event aims to bring together the two groups as there is a perception problem. "IT thinks marketing is about having a good time and not much science. The perception of IT is frontline support."

But both marketing and IT have the same priorities to support the business. Among the big concerns for business is that marketing tends to spend on a project-basis, using external agencies, which often leads to fragmented IT that require costly reintegration into the corporate IT strategy.

IT within marketing can create a budget blackhole and massive islands of business critical information that are not managed with the same level of care and attention as corporate IT systems. In one manufacturing firm Forrester spoke to, the CEO wanted all technology spend in marketing to move to IT. As a result, IT's spending increased by 30%.

Paderni says: "Outsourcing is not a negative. Marketing needs help to select agencies and support the right database architecture.".

IT must also adapt, according to Paderni. "When IT takes security as an excuse, the conversation between IT and marketing stops." He says there is a misconception of the risks, when a marketing campaign is running. "Integration issues after the campaign are not considered. It may take months and prove costly to integrate."

Nigel Fenwick, vice president and senior analyst at Forrester believes part of the problem is that lot of people in IT do not have much training in marketing. "Marketing builds up a lot of data on the customer. One of the challenges is that the agencies marketing hires, create a lot of technology.

He recommends IT hire people with marketing expertise such as developers who they have worked in an agency. Marketing should also hire IT people to interface with IT.

Another problem is the speed of IT, where projects can take many months, if not years to complete. Fenwick recommends that IT for marketing projects must be designed for speed, even if this means that an application has to be prototyped and replaced.

Read Simon Yates' views on why CIOs are from Mars and CMOs are from Venus >>

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