Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Marketers Turning to MOM

There’s a new community emerging within the world of marketing called marketing operations management, “markops” for short, MOM for shorter. Most of the markops people I’ve spoken with so far describe their roles as identifying opportunities for process improvement, and generally getting data and information from point A to point B in a marketing context. There’s great emphasis on improving the customer experience, capitalizing on lead generation, and generally promoting efficiencies.

Importantly, there seems to be a strong understanding amongst markops types that technology is best applied to automate sound business processes and to improve the suboptimal ones constrained by the limits of human processing speed, volume, or accuracy. It’s refreshing to note that this new breed of marketer is pushing automation and technology NOT for the sake of technology or job security (although they do seem to take the measure of one another through subtle clues inherent in the answer to “Which MOM platform are you running?”), but rather in the context of process improvement.

While a few of the markops folks I’ve met have been imported into the marketing department from IT or operations, most seem to share marketing or brand management DNA -- which makes them uniquely capable of envisioning the desirable outcomes of process improvement, not just the process of improvement itself. A high percentage of them are Six-Sigma-trained -- even if their current employer isn’t a Six-Sigma company. Many of the initiatives they’re undertaking are targeted at goals like more efficient e-mail marketing, Web site customization, customer datamart assembly, and integrated campaign optimization. There’s even some discussion of ROI -- albeit mostly still in the context of paying for the investments in the technology.

I think this is a very positive trend for marketing measurement and accountability. Focusing on process and information flows will accelerate the appetite for reliable measurement structures. My hypothesis is that the more tactical focus of the markops function of today will evolve into a more strategic one as the low-hanging fruit of process improvement is picked and the organizational confidence in them grows. In the future, I would expect their unique perspective within the department to translate into leading roles in architecting marketing measurement platforms. Provided, that is, that they can maintain direct access to the CMO, and that they are appropriately skilled in continuously reinventing their job descriptions to consolidate past successes and build bridges across functional groups within the marketing department. But that’s a message that the CMO needs to hear too.

If you’re in marketing operations today, I’d like to hear your perspective on the challenges and opportunities.

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