Who Manages Martech? IT or Marketing?

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The selection and operation of sometimes complex marketing technology raises a lot of questions around management and responsibility. 

Marketing departments are the ones operating the tech day to day - creating content, sending out emails etc - but the technical expertise within organisations is generally found within the IT department.

With martech now central to marketing strategy, and accounting for 23% of marketing budgets, this is an issue which becomes ever more important. 

martech budgets

Now, with most companies thinking digital first, and most of their target customers online, providing a great customer experience is what separates brands from their competitors.

This customer experience is primarily the responsibility of marketing. It's marketing that creates the content that customers read on site, sends emails, manages social media accounts and websites. 

However, it's marketing technology that underpins this - the CRMs, CDPs and DXPs that help marketers to manage customer interactions, the social media tools that allow them to track mentions and analyse strategy. 

A combination of the increasing need for martech, and its growing complexity means there is a need for marketers with the necessary skills and knowledge.  

Our recent Martech Report found this problem. There is a skills shortage in the market, a statement which 57% of respondents to our survey agreed with, and only 25% disagreed. 

talent shortage

This skills shortage is a natural effect of the rapid growth of martech, and the (digital) transformation of marketing over the past decade or more. 

As Scott Brinker told Martech Alliance: 

Technology moves so fast that it’s a challenge for the people actually implementing this stuff and harnessing it and learning it and leveraging it. There’s basically no way we can’t be in a position where there is almost an evergreen skills gap.”

Does this skills shortage mean that IT should have control of martech? We asked respondents (a mixture of marketers and agencies) where the responsibility for martech lies. 

We found that more companies have marketing entirely in charge of this process (9%) than those with IT entirely in control (1%).

The results are different to what we would have seen a decade ago, and suggest that the importance and impact of marketing is greater than ever.


split between IT and marketing

According to Damian Ryan of Moore Kingston Smith: 

I think one of the big challenges we’ve been through over the last 20 years is what could be described as a tussle between IT and marketing about who is in charge of the customer experience.

In the early days of the internet, the IT department had more control because they looked after the website. I think it’s actually taken a digitally native generation to get themselves into those positions of influence and control and tip the balance towards marketing.”

One obvious issue is that the operation of martech can be a challenge, a point Robert Rose made in a recent podcast reviewing our report
These are expert systems that are hard to learn and we need experts in not just implementing them but managing them. Marketing hasn't invested in that yet. We need to just be okay with the fact that marketing technology is difficult.
Nobody expects you as an accountant to run and be able to run a financial system on day one, you have to learn it, you have to get involved in it and you become expert at it. The same thing should be true with marketing technology and we shouldn't shy away from that."
As the people who operate the technology day to day, and are responsible for the results it produces, marketing needs to have the skills and knowledge to use and understand martech. 
They also need to have a say in the procurement of technology, as the right choice of tech, and the blend of tools in the organisation are crucial to marketing strategy. 
With our survey showing an even split and close collaboration for 41% of companies, this perhaps suggests a healthy balance between IT and marketing.
After all, when marketing technology impacts many teams across an organisation, a collaborative approach becomes a necessity. 
Kerry Dawes, Technical Director at Digitas UK:

Responsibility for Martech strategy shouldn’t just sit in with one team, whether this is IT or marketing. It straddles both, and organisations need a number of roles working together to produce results, and this includes other teams around the business.”

For many organisations it is likely that delivering an optimal customer experience is managed by marketing with help from the infrastructure that IT provides. While issues such as compliance with data privacy laws and security are managed by IT.
Co-operation between the two is key to delivering on these functions effectively, and this is often managed by a  marketing technologist / marketing operations professional.
This role - which is close enough to the marketing strategy but technical enough to speak the language the tech team understands is a critical one.
However, every marketer should be looking to improve their martech knowledge and skills, so they understand the tech they're using and can make the most of it. 
With skills shortages in the market, organisations also need to invest in martech training to overcome these barriers and upskill marketers so the tech they invest in produces results.