meet the chief marketing officer’s best friend
introducing the chief marketing officer’s new best friend, the chief information officer
Recently, a Chief Marketing Officer at a potential healthcare client asked me the following question, “What are a few things that we, as a (marketing) department, can be doing today to set ourselves up for success as we prepare to adopt enterprise marketing technology?” I listed off two or three key considerations from recent implementations. However, one finding in particular had been notably germane to recent internal team and external client conversations. Specifically, we have seen the need for marketing and IT to establish a meaningful, long-term relationship with one another sooner rather than later.
For those marketing and IT departments that have not been working closely with one another to date, we thought we would offer the following high-level suggestions to accelerate the process.
We will explore many of these topics in greater depth in subsequent posts.
Get Introduced. Find 60 Minutes To Meet Every Other Month.
Strategy and technology should always be aligned. As marketing and related digital strategies become increasingly important to healthcare organizations’ growth plans, the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Information Officer should be meeting at a regular cadence to align on one another’s priorities, org structures, budgets, etc. Further, they should hold an in-depth working session early on in the yearly budget planning process to ensure that they are presenting a strong, unified case for any major joint investments or initiatives.
Consider the Enterprise Architecture Strategy.
In our experience, most of the early marketing technology in place at healthcare organizations to date was purchased outside of the purview of IT and was not reviewed by an enterprise architecture team (still, in and of itself, a fairly nascent concept and resource pool within most healthcare organizations). As such, early purchases may be limited in their ability to play nicely with the organization’s middleware, data warehousing, and business intelligence technologies, which are key to building a robust and complete digital infrastructure. Further, BAA’s and other security and compliance requirements may not be fully in place with existing technology. As marketing and IT become more aligned over time, it is important that any digital investments be well positioned in the current and future enterprise architecture of the organization.
Understand IT Processes and Priorities.
The IT team within a healthcare organization has become increasingly central to supporting many cross organization operational areas and initiatives. And, given healthcare organizations are appropriately “care first” in their mission and budget allocation, IT in healthcare has traditionally been more resource strapped than many other industries. The department has had to take advantage of substantial, often mandated investments (i.e. the EMR via Meaningful Use) to expand its team and increase its importance as a key driver of strategic differentiation.
Given these constraints, the department has rightfully established formal processes around vetting and assigning resource requests. It is important for marketers to understand these processes and the IT department’s priorities at large, so they can reserve their spot in line early and as often as needed to support their digital initiatives.
Data. Data. Data.
Consumer oriented companies know that those they are most likely to engage existing customers and those that look and behave similar to their existing customers in their products and services. As such, the ability to analyze first party consumer data becomes extraordinarily valuable. Healthcare organizations have an immense amount of data about their customers given the nature of their services via information captured in their EMR, Payer IS systems, etc. This data can be used to identify those still in need of an annual preventative care visit, those who may be at a high risk or propensity for a given care need, or simply who might have a more convenient care experience by being made aware of a new facility near their house. Similarly, healthcare organizations should want to analyze engagement and consumer oriented data captured via marketing technology to understand how and whom within their patients, members, etc. are interacting with digital communications and tools they are deploying.
While data exchange and interfaces are often thought to be complex and resource intensive in the healthcare environment, we have consistently found that via the use of prescriptive data specs and more modern interface tool sets, we can exchange data meaningfully and responsibly between the applicable technologies without arduous efforts.
Build a Bridge in the Org Chart. Develop Marketing Analytics Expertise.
In support of the recommendations above, we suggest our customers build a bridge in the org chart between departments sooner rather than later. That bridge typically comes first via the hire of a Marketing Analytics team member. Whether this person formally reports to IT or Marketing is less important than ensuring that there is a hard “dotted” line from that individual to both departments. He or she should very much sit in both camps and be seen as a meaningful team member to both. The Marketing Analytics role is one that naturally will strengthen the interaction between groups. He or she will, over time, become an expert not just in marketing data but also in the first party healthcare data that allows the organization to better serve, segment, and interact with its consumer base.