Face the Facts: Marketing Needs Marketing Technologists

Diminishing IT Dependency Doesn’t Mean Ditching Tech

Face the Facts: Marketing Needs Marketing Technologists

Randy Apuzzo 05.11.2016

We run into an educational curve in virtually every demonstration that we do of the Zesty.io platform. Digital marketing teams get so excited about the possibilities of SaaS for CMS implementation that they often don’t realize how to best structure their teams in order to gain the maximum benefit from a migration to SaaS.

Traditional CMS Solutions Burden IT

The monolithic technology platforms used for Web content management within many organizations require a lot of infrastructure at the mid-market and enterprise level. When you’re a member of the IT department and you’re responsible for something like a CMS, you have to worry about website security, keeping software up-to-date, and performance issues like page load times. You need to create user accounts, and decommission those accounts if people leave the team. You have to help marketing when a plug-in conflict arises, or the site fails to make a database connection. And you’re likely doing this for a variety of sites within your organization, and with panicked marketing department members on your heels (or blowing up Slack).

Even if your organization contracts for managed hosting, non-SaaS native software is still hindered by its lack of automatic scalability and the need for updates that can threaten stability, even if temporarily. And we haven’t even mentioned the drain on IT that occurs with one-off martech integrations.

SaaS CMS Is a Major Part of the Solution

So when you take those tasks out of the CMS mix, you free up marketing teams to be more agile. You free up IT teams to focus on business critical systems. Websites, landing pages, and other forms of digital content can be procured and deployed faster, in order to respond more quickly to market opportunities, with greater stability, scalability and performance, all because of SaaS.

Diminishing IT Dependency Doesn’t Mean Ditching Tech

However, in their lack of understanding of what many IT team members actually do, marketing folks often lump anyone associated with technology, digital or otherwise, into the role of IT. Front end developers, coders, and digital layout and design experts get lumped together with sys admins, software engineers, database developers and programmers.

CMS companies haven’t done much to dispel some of these misunderstandings when it comes to highlighting where their efficiencies come from. Platforms are positioned as “easy”, even though there’s still heavy IT involvement. Marketing departments look for interfaces that allow any non-technical user to manage complex digital properties. Those in the position of evaluating a change in their CMS often look for solutions that put drag-and-drop and “zero code” at the forefront. The idea is that if you get rid of the “tech”, you don’t need technologists.

Lessons From the DevOps Movement

This thinking results when marketing departments remain under the incorrect assumption that they don’t need ANY technologists to execute their digital strategies if they choose the “right” CMS. Instead of adapting their marketing teams for a modern approach to marketing technology, they continue to relegate talent to one side or the other of a dividing line between marketing and IT.

An emerging term for this challenging relationship is “DevOps for Marketing”, a theme that was explored in depth at this year’s MarTech conference in San Francisco in March. Although on one level there is an industry call for marketing and IT departments to decide, for the benefit of the organization, to play nice together, I see a greater need that centers on organizational change within marketing departments.

"Just as DevOps has driven cultural and organizational change toward increased productivity and innovation in IT and Development, so too has Marketing Engineering within Marketing. Driven externally by a rapidly expanding marketing technology landscape and internally by constrained development and operational resources, marketing teams are enlisting their own developers to automate, integrate, analyze, and continuously deliver systems toward ever loftier marketing goals." --- Eric Peterson, Tableau and Josh Koening, Pantheon; Joint Presentation on Devops for Marketing

Marketing Teams Need Marketing Technologists

Here at Zesty.io, we’re seeing a significant need for an organizational reboot that redefines the role of marketing technologists, and includes front end developers well-versed in marketing technology. These are folks that understand what analytics are telling us about web and mobile site usage, and who direct UX development accordingly. They create the digital branding and the layouts for webpages, using things like HTML, CSS/LESS, and JavaScript. They implement the marketing integrations required to tie all the components in a martech stack - including CRM and marketing automation platforms - back to the CMS for efficiency and continuity. And they need to sit within marketing, not IT.

Gaining efficiencies with large-scale CMS deployments shouldn’t hinge simply on whether non-technical people throughout the organization can build sites and landing pages at will. Our extremely data-focused approach to modern digital marketing demands a change in both the expectations for marketing skill sets as well as a better understanding of how teams communicate.

For more insight, check out How I Learned to Stop Calling IT and Run My Own MarTech Stack, from Derek Hanna’s coverage of the emergence of DevOps for Marketing from the recent MarTech conference held in San Francisco this past March.

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Randy Apuzzo photo

Randy Apuzzo

Founder, Chair, CTO, Zesty.io

Randy started hacking at age 12 and started his professional career in 2004 as an entrepreneur focused on building business software and websites. He now leads the team at Zesty.io as their CEO. Randy is passionate about history, design, and technology. ... Learn More

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