Is the In-House B2B Marketing Department Going Away?
My last post triggered a heated debate (mostly in the LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community) about the dramatic changes we see in the B2B marketing function. One of the interesting topics that came up was outsourcing. As you know, more and more corporate functions are moving to a service and subscription based model where companies aggressively outsource everything that is not core to the business in order to gain advantages related to cost, scalability, and agility. This trend is nothing new, it has been building for a long time and many corporate functions like manufacturing have been outsourcing for decades. It seems as if the marketing function has only recently caught on to this trend in a major way, though.
Is marketing moving to a subscription based model?
We sure see this trend in the marketing automation platforms we use on a daily basis – webcasts, email campaigns, lead management, and many more. Many applications and services are not residing in-house on some server in the datacenter but are instead delivered in the cloud, provided as Software as a Service. This not only reduces fixed cost and enables pay as you go models; it also helps marketing to get the job done more quickly, without having to rely on the IT department (which in too many companies is becoming a bottleneck instead of a business enabler – which is further accelerating the push towards SaaS). The next phase I see is that SaaS vendors are partnering to provide end-to-end solutions that span multiple platforms so you can basically run all of your marketing automation in the cloud through a single interface (Salesforce.com is leading the way here with a myriad of 3rd party apps linked into the Salesforce.com ecosystem that expand the value chain step by step).
Outsourcing marketing talent
Do we see the same trend developing for outsourcing of talent? Sure, marketing departments have always outsourced campaigns, creative services, and projects to ad/PR/creative agencies. But it seems to me - observing what is going on in many companies and talking to a lot of people in the B2B marketing space - that the marketing outsourcing trend has dramatically accelerated over the last 12 months. Talent outsourcing is also moving up the value chain to projects that have traditionally remained in house.
What do you see happening?
Do you see the same trends? Is B2B marketing moving to a virtual model where a company only has a minimum core staff of true marketing experts that define strategy and programs, and then orchestrate a complex array of vendors, freelancers, and platforms to deliver on marketing goals? Is the future for the majority of marketing professionals a freelance model of working for dozens of clients at the same time? What is the barrier where the required level of domain expertise and coordination cost are outweighing the incremental savings and flexibility benefits?
Is the classic marketing department dead? Looking forward to your thoughts and observations on the topic.