- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Data: Where Marketing and IT Meet

Marketing-IT relationships have historically been challenging.   Marketers generally want to understand new trends and opportunities, and take this curiosity to the world of technology.  IT professionals usually share this curiosity, but when it comes to enterprise computing, frequently like to err on the side of stability and caution.  At the extreme, IT can view marketers as wild cowboys with a budget, while marketers can see IT as the immovable blockade between the business and customers.

In a strange way, Social Media – still a very new frontier for marketing and IT alike – may be driving a common ground with data needs.  Doug Henschen recently wrote a lead article in Information Week on this, which began:  “Modern marketers don’t make emotional decisions in the kinds of boozy, smoke-filled rooms seen on Mad Men. They want some statistical assurances before they spend one red cent, for which they’re relying on technology tools and expertise.”  These are words even an IT auditor would love.

Henschen goes on to explain that with email marketing, Social, and Web, there are a wealth of data to be used to validate marketing strategies and tactics.  The concepts of targeting, testing, and refining marketing campaigns can use much more precise measures, and can be more closely correlated to sales.

Henchen sees marketers looking to IT to assist:  “there are good employment prospects for IT pros who know how to manage and analyze that data,” he writes.

So far, so good, but there is a catch.  IT cannot simply be the keepers of the data and the tools, they must learn the needs of Marketing and be prepared to move at the speed of the customer.  Henchen writes: “marketers are still frustrated by gaps in measurability across channels. And while they’re trying to fill those gaps by buying software to manage and analyze advertising efforts, marketing execs don’t necessarily trust their own IT departments to implement it.”  He advises IT to learn to work more closely to understand Marketing’s needs and goals.

While not directed at the insurance industry, this advice should be understood well by those of us in this community.  The theme of this year’s Insurance-Canada Technology Conference was Business Results Through Informed Action (emphasis supplied), and many of the presentations focused on data and its use.  An old adage might be appropriate here.  When it comes to Data:  Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!