Center of Excellence. A clear and obvious term, right? Take a moment to google and very little meaningful information will be provided, nor how or why it applies to you. Yet the phrase keeps surfacing, amidst other buzzwords such as artificial intelligence and intent monitoring. So what is it and why should you care? Glad you asked.
A Center of Excellence or COE (or CoE) is a team, shared facility or entity that provides leadership, best practices, research, support and/or training for a focus area. In our arena, it’s frequently a Marketing CoE.
Before we dive into the definition of a CoE, let’s discuss what a CoE is not. It is not a steering committee, who’s focus should be on the strategic priorities of the business and therefore the overarching direction of its operations. Nor is it a demand center, which is a central and/or regional hub of shared marketing services, infrastructure and processes. Think of the demand center as the operational arm for what the CoE develops and implements.
Typically, there is a gap between the strategic planning and decisions made by executive leadership and the teams that will operationalize those decisions. I’m sure you’ve all seen that play out in your world. The CoE solves for this gap, especially as the technology stack grows but the structures and processes currently in place can’t enable and support it. Additionally, the CoE addresses one of the issues that is all too common, which is the transition from deployment to implementation and adoption. The CoE is not only involved in the building of these processes, but also owns the management and ongoing progression of them.
At Relationship One, we typically see the following functions fall to the CoE team:
- Best Practices – provide support and direction on organizational change management, standardized approaches/processes, tools, methodologies and knowledge centers.
- Support – deliver shared services, policies, training, templates, communications, etc.
- Measurement – define marketing performance measurement (MRM) approach, analyze marketing results and CoE ROI.
- Training – provide skills assessments, e-learning curriculum, classroom training, certification programs, etc.
- Technology – technology/systems standardization, integration standardization, vendor management.
- Governance – provide oversight on marketing technology access, usage, performance management, integration management, data management, utilization, etc.
Looks great, right? But it requires a shift from how we do things today, one that requires creating roles and functions or ensuring better interdepartmental functions in an organizational structure that doesn’t currently support it; or more often, isn’t aware that there is even a need.
For that, it requires the visibility and sponsorship of your leadership team, and a plan. Creating something from nothing, especially in an enterprise environment, takes both. But for our clients who have implemented them, it pays overwhelming dividends and has provided our team the evidence that the “CoE” as a term and a function will soon become as familiar as any others in our organizations.
Stay tuned as we follow up with more content around COE, including how you create one and some benefits you can expect. If you have question or comments in the meantime, write below or contact us!