Not long ago, a Forbes article shared an important lesson learned. It revealed that 70 percent of the companies that were on the Fortune 1000 list a mere ten years before had vanished – unable to adapt to change. Articles like this reinforce the importance of agility.

The market research company, Forrester, defines business agility as “the quality that allows an enterprise to embrace market and operational changes as a matter of routine.” Achieving agility requires activation. It needs to build the infrastructure and the activate processes, systems, and tools.

The pursuit of agility and excellence inspires the activation of a concept known as a Center of Excellence (CoE). A Center of Excellence provides the necessary leadership to foster best practices, facilitate research, and enhance the skills needed for a focused area to drive business results. A Marketing CoE is characterized by its ability to improve the following:

  • Internal business processes
  • Customer-centricity
  • Market leadership
  • Market innovation

A critical link exists between Marketing’s designation as a CoE and the presence of a Marketing Operations (Marketing Ops) function. At its most fundamental level, a CoE works to create world-class standards and models that drive and achieve business results, encourage innovation, and leverage proven techniques and methodologies.

For BIC marketers, these processes, systems, tools, and skills are necessary to link Marketing to business outcomes. Improving the agility and excellence of these processes exist within the Marketing Ops function. It is their responsibility to track and report results in order to improve and prove marketing’s value.

In short, Marketing Ops helps run the Marketing function as a fully accountable business by building the processes and managing the systems. The Marketing Ops function enables marketing to leverage two key capabilities necessary for a CoE’s success: process and technology.

Marketing Ops Runs Your Marketing Processes

Put Your Marketing Ops into High Gear to Achieve Agility and Excellence

Process is the Lifeblood of Marketing Operations  and Agility

“A bad system will beat a good person every time.” –W. Edwards Deming

Marketing organizations that aspire to transform into a Center of Excellence and thus enable business agility need to strengthen their operational capabilities. This means your Marketing Operations function needs to be more than where you house your technology or run your campaigns; it needs to be hub of your CoE.

One of the capabilities that separate best-in-class (BIC) marketers from their peers is how they approach marketing performance management (MPM). These Marketing organizations take a highly disciplined approach to operations. On average, over two-thirds of the BIC marketers have a Marketing Ops function with solid MPM capabilities. This is true for less than half of the rest of Marketing organizations. Even though BIC organizations are still developing their Marketing Ops function, as much as 40 percent may be ahead of their colleagues when it comes to MPM measurement and reporting, data management, technology and automation, strategic planning, analytics and predictive modeling, and workflow process development.

Nothing about that news is remotely good for business.

When the stakes are high to reach the next level, where do the best and brightest in the business start? BIC Marketing Operations organizations focus first on a performance measurement process that cascades from corporate objectives to marketing objectives to marketing programs. The BIC marketing operation’s team successfully tackle three areas:

  • Measuring marketing ROI and demonstrating value
  • Balancing marketing strategy with your marketing tactics
  • Tying marketing success to the goals of other groups

Six roles and associated processes and capabilities consistently surface among the BIC’s Marketing Ops function (in priority order):

  1. Customer, market, competitive intelligence, research, and insights
  2. Analytics and predictive modeling
  3. Data management
  4. Campaign analysis and reporting
  5. Budgeting and planning; financial governance and reporting
  6. Organization benchmarking and assessments

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Nothing Makes or Breaks Marketing Ops and Agility Like Technology

Technology plays a critical role in enabling Marketing Ops to accomplish its tasks and faciliate agility.

In their “Realizing the Promise of Marketingmarketing activation Technology” study, ITSMA defines marketing technology as “the software for improving marketing and sales processes to achieve business objectives.” Marketing technology enables Marketing to create growth and generate value faster and better. It allows Marketing to master analytics and prioritize their focus to find, keep, and grow the value of customers while prove and improve its value. Marketing technology is an expansive and expanding landscape. It has taken on a life of its own, and its influence is undeniable in the global economy.

Even so, marketing technology is a tool. A necessary tool. Because the marketing technology landscape has exploded, it’s hard to know which tools are required and which are the nice-to-haves. Technology for its own sake can turn into the hunt for the next shiny toy.

Before you succumb to the lure of the toy, make sure it also makes strategic sense. To ensure your technology investments truly help your organization thrive, you need to consider whether they are the right fit for you and how they will create an effective and efficient sustainable technology ecosystem—for you. Otherwise your new shiny toy will quickly lose its luster, especially if it fails to boost your bottom line.

Use our Marketing Activation resources to help you advance your Marketing Operations and Marketing Performance Management. Contact us when you’re ready to transform your Marketing organization into a CoE and take your Marketing Operations to the next level. Here’s where our checklist begins:

  • Enable a collaborative and transparent planning processes to ensure alignment between your marketing plans and business outcomes.
  • Increase your visibility and accountability in the budgeting process and expenditure tracking that ensure alignment between your investments and your impact.
  • Link tasks to deliverables to outcomes and define the workflow for the approval process for the deliverables to improve your predictability, on-time deliverability, and cost management.
  • Develop and deploy a dashboards that enable your Marketing organization to gain instant visibility into key outcome-based operational and activity metrics.

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