Marketing technology has garnered a staggering amount of attention in recent years as startups take advantage of today’s low capital requirements to address the myriad challenges marketers face in the digital, customer-centric marketing era. Tech solutions continue to automate processes and measure outcomes in ways that enhance both the performance of marketing and sales as well as customers’ experience. This has led to numerous tech-focused events such as this week’s Dreamforce ‘14 and the MarTech conference held in August.
What has received less attention, until recently, is the discipline that has evolved to own the strategic use of marketing technology: Marketing Operations. The inaugural Marketing Operations and Technology Summit will be held October 22-24 and aims to address this void. I sat down with the conference’s chair, Gary Katz, to gain a few insights regarding the discipline’s current state as well as a glimpse of what we can expect from the event.
David: Marketing Ops is a fairly new position and growing rapidly. How do you see MarOps roles varying from organization to organization?
Gary: Marketing Ops has actually been around longer than most of us realize. Its roots are in market research and brand management, which emerged in the 1920s and 1930s respectively. The Marketing Science Institute, which advanced terms like brand equity and marketing ROI, was established more than 50 years ago. A résumé search will find people with marketing ops titles going back into the 1990s and even the 1980s.
What's changed – and continues to rapidly change – is our understanding of marketing operations. While a lot of the fundamentals – process, technology, metrics, data, people – are similar, there's great variation across industries, business maturity, experience with marketing operations, CMO tenure, selling model and so on.
A fast-moving consumer package goods company, like Proctor & Gamble (P&G), has been immersed in marketing operations practices and infrastructure for decades. P&G was one of the pioneers in systematically architecting its marketing processes so they could be optimized with automation. P&G's business is centered on superior market and customer intelligence, and the ability to quickly act upon it.
Financial institutions such as Bank of America recognized the critical need to measure the impact of high-volume cross-channel marketing campaigns. Pharma companies rely on marketing ops to meet stringent compliance and regulatory requirements. IBM, Oracle and others have been active in the marketing technology and analytics investments in recent years through acquisitions, which they are trying to link and integrate into the fabric of their business practices. The more mature players, such as Intuit, Dell and Clorox are realizing they need to put a greater investment in building their capabilities, which often starts with the gap between their existing talent and the skills and competencies they'll need in the future.
David: What are a few major challenges/opportunities that Marketing Ops is currently facing? And in what ways do you see this affecting marketing as a whole?
Gary: A big one is how to support CEOs in their quest for organizational agility, which is the No. 1 challenge in most companies. Another is how to get the most out of large investments in marketing technology and how to connect the dots between marketing systems and enterprise systems (which involves much more than the technology itself). An especially concerning challenge is how to build business cases that secure the needed funding to see marketing-led enterprise initiatives through over time. Too often, marketing transformation or improvement efforts die before they make a real impact due to “Ivory Tower” decisions, CMO turnover, failure to get sustained executive sponsorship and buy-in, etc. A major challenge in the B2B world is how to expand from a primary focus on customer acquisition to more completely addressing the customer lifecycle (customer retention, loyalty, experience management, etc.).
Marketing's growing stature and impact in the enterprise is tightly linked to the effectiveness of marketing operations organizations as enablers of agility, alignment, accountability, capability development, scalability and much more. Marketing and MarOps win together, and the enterprise wins when that partnership is working.
David: Why the Marketing Ops and Technology Summit and why now? What sets this summit apart and how will it complement other related events that are popping up, such as the MarTech Conference?
Gary: The Marketing Operations and Technology Summit is the first venue to focus on marketing operations as a strategic discipline. Together we'll be defining the future of marketing operations and co-creating the roadmap to get there. Where technology might be at the heart of other events, we see it as a powerful tool, but not the end game.
The format and agenda of our summit has been developed to ensure an independent, rather than vendor, perspective. We expect this type of offering will attract marketing and marketing operations leadership, and, in fact, we have attracted some CEOs, COOs and CMOs to join the fun.
Oh…and both events have Scott Brinker! It's really gratifying to receive an endorsement from the chair of MarTech in the form of his active participation as a keynote speaker at our event.
David: What topics will be covered and why are these themes so important to today’s marketer?
Gary: We've carefully picked topics that are relevant and important today, but also provide a peak around the corner to explore what's next. We are trying to spur both creative solutions to today's challenges and provide a crystal-ball view into the full-breadth of opportunities and possibilities coming down the pike.
Doug Milliken, VP of Global Brand Management at Clorox, is going to kick off the conference with a keynote on real-time marketing capability. Award-winning author Adrian Ott (The 24 Hour Customer) will present on marketing agility and Carol Buehrens of the ICW Group of Insurance Companies will share her expertise on how to link journey mapping to customer lifetime value. Former CMO Christine Crandell will reveal secrets of aligned leaders around the popular topic of sales and marketing alignment.
We'll have panels on creating an analytics center of excellence, marketing technology success stories and nightmares, and bridging the marketing talent gap. Panelists represent leading companies such as Dell, GoGo, Intel, Intuit, LinkedIn, Netflix, SAP and Tata. We'll also have a law firm CMO and one of the most prolific CMOs on Twitter teaming up to share their view of MarOps from the C-suite. And I'm really excited to be facilitating a fireside chat with the former directors of marketing ops at the Gap and Symantec, who have each parlayed their MarOps pioneering expertise into CMO roles.