Tech’s “Rhythm Section”: Sales, Marketing and Business Operations
I recall reading a quote from Bob Dylan, in which he said, “There’s never been a great band without a great bassist and drummer.” The singer and lead guitarists may pack arenas and appear on magazine covers, but the unheralded rhythm section holds the band together musically. After all, it’s difficult to dance without a beat.
A similar characterization can be made of operations, particularly in technology companies. Reps may bask in the sun at Club and marketers may keynote conferences, but the ops team holds together the entire go-to-market function. Without ops, data doesn’t see daylight, leads aren’t routed, accounts aren’t scored, compensation is divorced from behavior, and CRM and marketing automation databases decay. Sales and marketing lose their rhythm.
And yet despite the massive number of vendors who sell to the sales-, business- and marketing operations functions, companies publish relatively little about the characteristics of the professionals behind these foundational titles. You want to find the top content marketers? Google is awash in resources. You want to find the top marketing operations pros? It’s decidedly slimmer pickings. Ops has been a forgotten persona, at least by marketers. But not anymore.
InsightSquared teamed with LinkedIn’s Content and Research teams to begin to highlight the basic characteristics of three critical operations roles – marketing operations, business operations and sales operations. Did they go to college? If so, where? What did they study? Does the profession skew male or female? Do they tend to work for large companies or startups? What software certifications do they tout? In other words, who are they?
The results are intriguing. Let’s have a look at a few discoveries:
There are any number of reasons why one might want to go to college, but a degree is clearly not a prerequisite to becoming an operations professional. According to LinkedIn data, more operations professionals have no college degree than those with two- and four-year degrees, combined.
Similarly, elite private schools may set you up for a career in, say, investment banking, but they’re overkill for ops pros. A public university is plenty sufficient for a career in operations. Interestingly, with the exception of marketing operations, more ops professionals list a degree from a for-profit university than completed an MBA program.
As you might expect, the highly analytical tech vertical invests most heavily in operations, in particular business and marketing operations. Tech companies are also considered to be early adopters, so it’s likely that product innovation in areas of sales intelligence and automation are contributing to this trend.
If you pair these gender breakdown graphics with the previous industries chart, an interesting observation emerges: while the technology industry clearly struggles with gender diversity, business and marketing operations, at the very least, appear to be fairly evenly distributed. There’s room for improvement in sales operations, however.
Now it’s your turn. Below is the full infographic. We’d enjoy hearing what conclusions you draw from the research, what questions it arouses, and what other data you’d like us to explore in the future.