There have been some great discussions about recent a GigaOM post about CMO controlling IT budget. Andi Mann at CA Technologies offers some great insight that Marketing is just one of many business functions dependent on IT.
However, I spoke with a CMO about this article. He lit up. His gripe? He can’t get data he needs about his customers out of ERP. He is trying to figure out where to apply resources to improve sales. He has “big data” from multiple sources. But its locked in a vault.
The core problem? The staff working to help him don’t understand the business they are part of. They didn’t know how to speak in business terms. He spent 20 minutes figuring out that when developer said “program” as in “We have data for each program” – what he meant was “customer” as in “We have data for each customer.” Who calls a customer a program?
Data labels are incomprehensible filled with dashes and underscores, so he can’t dump data into a spreadsheet and “pivot table” it to understand spend by customer. And the IT resource indicated that the his needs were 4th on his priority list. I’m not making this up.
So we have IT folks, who don’t understand the business, speaking tech, exposing database table labeled data, working directly with a business executive, telling him that his needs are low their list of priorities.
I can appreciate why a successful, assertive marketing executive want to take back IT budget. Not to own IT. But to control their own destiny. My contact was expert at funding initiatives that directly impact top line growth. He knows how much increased revenue to expect with an incremental dollar spent on a marketing campaign. But he has no visibility into what he is getting in return for his IT spend.
Clearly, there are multiple IT issues to address with governance, service training, business resource prioritization etc. I told him he should talk to CIO and offer to spend some time sharing his needs and priorities. If the CIO isn’t interested, I suggest he take back control of IT budget and hire a business analyst.
Incidentally, when I conducted a hard data study of IT business integration, the IT organizations with least control of their budget had the best alignment scores. Interesting.