Marketing vs. IT: Data Governance Bridges the Gap

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Tension between the marketing organization and the IT team is nothing new. It probably started when the first marketing cavewoman asked her IT guy for help getting a fire started. In response, he probably asked her if the fire was plugged in -- long before the dawn of electricity. Things have not gotten any better since then. In fact, it may have gotten worse.

In the stone ages, the IT department called all the shots when it came to technology decisions and adoption within companies. Marketing teams stood in line with their very detailed requirements waiting for budgets and resources to get them on the priority list. Even when that happened, there was a project lifecycle procedure that still needed to be followed which was something only marketing people with MBAs could understand – and even they thought it was excessive. Of course, all participants want to ensure that resources are applied to meaningful projects, that data is managed carefully and that the business doesn’t take unnecessary risks. However, if getting in the IT queue means the project will never see the light of day, perhaps business users should go back to the cave.

Inflection Point

Fast forward to 2008-2009. Suddenly, there was this incredible wave of change: cloud computing, awesome app stores, mobile devices that became traveling computers; all of which made it possible for marketing and other lines of business to simply get the tools they needed. A cloud document storage system? Done! A different webcast platform? Say no more. A survey tool? You got it. You could almost hear the pitter patter of feet beating a path to the nearest app store to subscribe to one service or another that would potentially help them do their jobs better.

One of the first areas of modernization was in BI and analytics. According to Gartner, more than half of all budget spent on BI and analytics today are driven by the lines of business. The Corporate Executive Board reports that more than a quarter of non-IT employees use collaboration and analytics tools they have purchased themselves. In many cases, an IT team in a mid-size company will know about 10 or more BI tools being used, while there are at least six to 10 more they don’t know about.

However, while “Shadow IT” and “BYOD” was initially great for the business, it also made it impossible for IT to provide guidance over technology investments, help standardize shared services and worst of all, maintain control over business information. In fact, now business teams are grappling with significant security issues and a proliferation of new data silos. New arguments have erupted as to which owner has the better data, and ultimately each group is running no faster than they did before the dawn of the Datazoic era.

At the center of most of these debates is the marketing organization. Marketers stand to gain the most by proving they are not just a cost center, but a critical growth engine of the company. One of the hottest phrases in marketing today is data-driven, which is defined commonly as “acquiring, analyzing and applying information about customer and consumer wants, needs, context, behavior and motivations.” To become data driven, marketers typically use the most standalone tools automation, content distribution, social media, search engine optimization, etc. and require the most amount of data manipulation if they want to truly analyze, report and improve on our contribution and value. In a recent CMO Magazine article, it was noted that “Marketing strategies without data analytics is like trying to make fire without oxygen. It is impossible.”

The New Relationship

But marketers don’t want to do it alone. They know that data and decisions must live side by side with other business teams, data and decisions – or the entire organization will never be aligned. This is where IT can play a new, important role for the business. The key is to first understand how to govern information in the modern data era – not going back to the stone ages where marketers – and for that matter all business users -- had to follow naming conventions, put everything into schemas and build their work into models.

Today, IT teams can empower the data-driven marketing organization by providing better tools and automation across the entire analytic process, including a new class of self-service data preparation solutions, which simplify, automate and reduce the manual steps of the analytic process.

This new self-service data preparation “workbench” empowers marketing, sales, finance and business operations analysts with a shared environment that captures how they work with data, where they get it from and ultimately what BI tool they use to analyze it. Every step is captured so that real-world practices can be replicated, shared, reviewed and, best of all, re-used.

Marketing may want to be at the head of the table in budgeting and implementation decisions involving BI and analytics projects, but to be successful the IT organization must be involved at inception. To bridge the gap, new data preparation tools offer inventive frameworks of organic data governance, which feeds back into the IT system everything business analysts do with the data. This in turn drives governance in collaboration with IT. No one becomes extinct and the world we know continues to turn, only faster, better, smarter.

Cari Jaquet is the vice president of marketing at Paxata, providers of the first purpose-built Adaptive Data Preparation solution.

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