Over the last 10 years I have had the pleasure of working with 100+ companies spread across virtually every industry. It has been both smaller local companies, some of the largest to large international companies in the Fortune 500.
One thing I see over and over again, regardless of company size, is how difficult it is for the company to integrate a proper ownership of their digital marketing tools. This is definitely the biggest challenge I see for companies today – regardless of how long they have worked with Digital Marketing.
10 years ago, the focus was on Web Analytics. Today, it isn’t only just about Web Analytics – today, conversation are broader and is about Digital Marketing or Marketing Technology. Meaning the tech stack that use cases are executed on are broader. However, the challenges related to ownership hasn’t really changed that much. There is no doubt that this is a large topic to cover and I can in no way cover it properly in a blog post. At the same time, there are also no final answers. However, I will give my input as to where I – based on my own experience – think you should be placing the ownership of your digital tools.
Unfortunately, all too often I experience that companies across all industries start out with leaving the ownership of their digital marketing tools to IT. When I look at the most successful customers, what differentiates them from others is that they have typically moved ownership away from IT to a more suitable area. Or they simply placed ownership a more optimal place in the organization from the beginning.
Let me make it clear, I ‘m not saying that IT should not be part of the process – IT still plays an important role. My point is simply that ownership, decisions about what to measure/test/optimize, and implementation of processes in the rest of the organization, should be placed outside of IT. It’s just very rarely the case.
What makes IT the obvious choice?
- Implementation: Although the target audience for your Digital Marketing tools typically are e-com and the marketing team, then it typically requires that IT is involved from the start, as they are in charge of getting it implemented. If you use eg . Adobe Analytics to its full, it will also require that IT continuously maintain/optimize the implementation, which just makes is so more obvious that IT should own it. Unfortunately, IT almost always end up acting as some sort of ‘gate keeper’.
- Centralized: IT is typically the only department in the company which is centrally located, as they somehow have a dotted line to all departments. How many other departments has this in most companies?
It’s really quite obvious when you think about it. I just think the overall problem is that IT isn’t aligned with the purpose of the tools they implement. There is no doubt that IT’s goals are aligned with respect to the company’s interests and overall goals. But they are not necessarily aligned and adjusted in relation to the end user’s interests, who is using the tool. Typical problems I experience when Digital Marketing Tools are owned by IT are:
- Business requirements is not necessarily correct or proper thought through, so there is often a lack of important reports.
- The implementation is often exaggerated (tracking everything to be on the safe side and then business later sort through it). The classic I meet is “We want to track all the links on these pages”. The opposite can also easily become a problem – an implementation that has not been customized for each page and its functions.
- Lack of involvement of the organization itself (no strategy for report distribution and training of the tool).
- Deployment of technology is typically done in silo and does not take uses cases into account, that goes across technologies/solutions.
If not IT, then who?
It depends entirely on the company and how this works. The most important thing is of course that ownership is centrally located and aligned relative to drive business results across the entire organization. As I said, there is no rulebook or final answers and what works best will vary from company to company. You want to consider the following questions to help you make the right choices:
- How long the company has taken advantage of Web Analytics and other Digital Marketing solutions and how it works at the moment?
Are there an overview of which things are being tracked or is it one big mess.
- How mature is the analytic culture within the organization?
How high up in the organization is there a focus on the analytical.
- Who approves changes to your site?
This is more relevant than you might think. Typically, you sit as a web analyst and sends reports to people who cannot approve changes to your site. So it is important to involve the stakeholder who are the decisionmakers.
- Is there a governance in place today?
Is there a group or task force in place to ensure execution of use cases across solution or is each team executing within their own area.
- Which organization model works best in your organization? Centralized? Decentralised?
Centralized where a single analytical team services the entire organization – from ad hoc reports to when you are allowed to go to the bathroom. Decentralised where each department do what suits them the most.
I have no doubt that there are some companies that have run into some of the challenges described above. Maybe you recognize the above from your own business, but may not have been aware of what was causing them.
As I said, there are no final answers, so please share how you do it in your company – what works and what doesn’t. Please comment below, if you’re struggling with any particular challenges?