It’s Gaming Technology Conference month (March 17-19 at Caesars Palace, www.gamingtechnologyconf.com), which means we’ll be taking the temperature of CMO/CIO relations, among other things, and seeing how gaming companies are managing the transition to marketing as more science than art.  

That’s one of those phrases that signal to an outside observer like me that things are getting more difficult, complicated and stressful. To make sense of it, I’m attracted to statements that are easy to understand, being more artistic than scientific myself. A couple of years ago, Aron Ezra of Bally Technologies spoke at another of our conferences and pointed out that by 2017, the Gartner Group estimates CMOs will purchase more technology than CIOs. Last year, one of our Gaming Technology CIO panelists said that his big focus used to be slot operations, but now 85 percent of his department’s work is marketing-related.

Another point that came up last year was how difficult it can be to align planning and purchasing. You get your strategy in place with one set of technologies in mind and, during the course of the year, vendors come at you from all directions, calling on everyone from individual property GMs, department heads and lots of folks in between. And some of that stuff is pretty good. When the customer becomes passionate about a new product or service, it has to go through a formal evaluation process, if you’re doing things right. But you could spend your entire life evaluating things if you’re not careful.

The range of needs and choices is mind-boggling. With thanks to Scott Brinker, chief marketing technologist and his website, www.chiefmartec.com, here’s one way to look at it, by class of technology and category:

Marketing experiences: E-mail marketing; mobile marketing; search and social ads; display ads; video ads and marketing; creative and design; communities and reviews; social media marketing; events and webinars; calls and call centers; customer experience/VoC; loyalty and gamification; personalization; testing and optimization; marketing apps; SEO; content marketing; sales enablement.

Marketing operations: Marketing data; channel/local marketing; marketing resource management; digital asset management; agile and project management; marketing analytics; dashboards; web and mobile analytics; business intelligence.

Middleware: Data management platforms/customer data platforms; tag management; user management; cloud connectors; APIs.

Backbone platforms: CRM; marketing automation/integrated marketing; website/WCM/WEM; e-commerce.

Infrastructure: Database; big data; cloud; mobile app development; web development.

Internet: marketing environment.

That’s 43 different categories across six different classes, and, in January, Brinker counted 947 different companies servicing this market with software.  There are 65 different companies selling social media marketing solutions alone. And the numbers go up all the time.

At gaming conferences, it’s common to hear that the industry is ahead in some ways (data collection) and behind in others (integration), but a casual venture out into the broader world of marketing suggests that all marketing-intensive industries are wrestling with similar transitions. In multi-channel marketing, for instance, how many companies have truly integrated e-mail, website, online ads, social and mobile? Not many, I would imagine, especially when much of the world is still trying to figure out the value of a tweet.

The challenges of integration are numerous and daunting. Having data all at one source so you can integrate it together and have one view of the customer; multiple platforms that don’t talk to each other; separate teams for e-mail, direct, and social marketing going in their own directions, not because they are composed of cowboys, but because that’s how things just evolved; integrating triggered e-mail messages with a customer’s web behavior; online and offline marketing technologies not talking to each other, etc.

  For all the push toward automation, integration and standardization, only humans could have devised a contraption as unscientific as the reality that faces IT and marketing today.