Marketing and internal technology have, in the past, been
two departments that were adversarial in many companies. The gap was easy to define. Marketing was full of art professionals who
used feel to improve the image of the firm.
Technology was full of logic minded, security and data focused
professionals that were concerned about keeping compliance high. Many times, the marketing professional would
make choices with company data that compromised that data’s integrity. The marketing department wouldn’t see it this
way, though – they were trying to build niches and increase prospects.
While these stereotypes do have a grain of truth (don’t all
stereotypes?), it is increasingly necessary that the two areas work closely
together. Marketing has transitioned
into a highly sophisticated business intelligence endeavor with a technology
profile that is complex. In fact,
Gartner’s Laura McClellan suggested that marketing may spend more on technology
than IT by the year 2017.
Technology professionals are in the midst of a transition
from hardware maintenance to service delivery.
This requires more interpersonal communication and targeted messaging to
key stakeholders in the firm.
Why marketing should
look to technology for help
The marketing industry has experienced a considerable shift
in the past ten years. Social media,
blogs, collaboration and other methods are used to engage prospects in a
conversation. With this shift, marketing
has increasingly taken over the selection and purchasing of the software to
accomplish these tasks.
Many of these products were the first introduction of cloud,
or hosted, products into the firm. This
was often driven by two factors: speed and requirements. The speed to implement a solution if a
campaign needed large scale email or social management skills is much faster
with a hosted solution. In addition,
sending out high volume email campaigns needs special care and maintenance that
many IT departments were ill equipped to support.
However, as this portfolio of products increased, two things
- The technology portfolio was not managed
Marketing professionals often select products to do the job, but don’t
regularly evaluate the solutions used to see if the licensing is correct, or if
others products may do the job that are already owned. In many cases, costs are high because they
are not evaluated by someone who is trained to make sure that technology costs
are in line.
- The amount of data generated exceeds marketing’s
ability to manage.
Many marketing solutions are excellent at generating data. They even provide proper funnels for this data
to be used to increase the number of opportunities a firm has for new
business. However, there are two areas
where it may not be managed effectively.
The first relates to the client and prospect lists. The solutions implemented may have been put
in place without proper integration to other systems, creating a silo of
valuable information to the firm. Also,
moving opportunities from marketing to sales (or production) may be difficult
because of this silo. In addition, much
of the information that is generated may be useful in business intelligence
platforms to evaluate performance of the entire sales cycle.
In both instances, IT has a central role for the firm. The alignment of business analysts or
technology professionals in both areas could help marketing manage two areas
they were not trained for.
Why technology should
look to marketing for help
IT professionals are in the midst of a shift from hardware
to services. This does not mean that
hard technology skills will go away in every firm. However, over time many of the break and fix
jobs will be outsourced for the same reasons that marketing shifted to the
cloud; speed of implementation and requirements that exceed the current
As this shift happens, the value of IT must transition from
the hardware used to managing the data that is produced. Although the common practice in this area is
to look at security and compliance, the shift beyond these to value added
services will keep technology skills in demand in the firm.
One of the best ways to communicate this shift in services
and the value to the firm is a positive, educational campaign. If done correctly, this can open IT’s doors
to working with all departments to improve processes, help with effective
project management and use the evaluation methods honed by software & hardware
selection to evaluate many business aspects.
These are valuable skills that are underutilized in many firms.
Most IT professionals only communicate when the status quo
is restored. This is a net zero communication
approach and marketing can help. In
fact, it would be a pretty simple project for a department that often conducts
multiple campaigns to thousands of potential prospects.
Marketing can help IT:
- Define the value of IT to the firm
key marketing concepts to develop a campaign of education
the firm for maximum impact
- Use the very tools used to communicate outside
the firm to maximize the value of IT within the firm
- Raise the perception of IT from hardware to high
value service provider
In closing, this alliance may take some time to hammer
out. Each department will need to
understand what the other side can provide, and this means laying your cards on
the table. What do you need help
with? What can you help the other side
with? The continuation of this
relationship in the firm will benefit both sides. However, it does come with sacrifice. There is a reason tensions have existed
between technology and marketing. Make
sure to acknowledge this, and work on the next steps together. Keep diligent in future decisions to involve
the other side. It may have rough bumps
but you can’t build alliances with practice and trust. The results will benefit both sides, and most
importantly, the firm.