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Blurred Lines: Where Marketing and IT Meet

Until recently, marketing and IT were two very separate initiatives at any given company. The marketing department was traditionally in charge of strategic communications and IT was focused on operating and supporting electronic infrastructure. A few years ago, Gartner published a report titled “By 2017 the CMO will Spend More on IT than the CIO” and while that remains to be seen, there’s no doubt that a shift in how marketing and IT work together is taking place. Now, marketing must combine the strategic and creative efforts with analytics to identify and maximize business opportunities while IT must start thinking about how to morph from being a cost center to a business facilitator and enabler.

So much of business today is digitally based, requiring proper tools to be in place for success, measurement and basic daily tasks. For example, when a company’s e-commerce functionality goes down it’s not only a problem for the IT department; it’s a marketing issue as well. Every minute the site is down, money is potentially lost and the risk of upsetting customers increases with every second that passes. These departments need to be willing to welcome perspective from essentially different corners of the office and embrace a one-team concept.

Nice To Meet You, I’ve Known You For Years
IT used to be a back-office function, but it’s now front and center in a company’s infrastructure and a vital part of the marketing process. As a result, marketing and IT need to work collaboratively for the success of the company. It’s funny how many marketing departments have no idea what the IT team is doing down the hall. Many companies invite all employees to Lunch & Learn sessions, which open the lines of communication and give each team the ability to showcase what they do to the broader team.

Can We Talk?
Let’s be honest – a company hires marketers for their expertise and IT for theirs. Nobody expects the IT department to be expert marketers and vice versa, but it is critical that both departments have an elementary understanding of what the other is doing. When related departments don’t communicate, they might as well be operating in entirely different companies. Something as simple as a night at the bar or the ballgame can prompt open communication and put a project back on track.

My Goals + Your Goals = OUR Goals!
As part of the relationship-building process, it’s necessary to discuss goals on both a micro and macro level. Not only must each department clearly understand their goals, they also must understand the goals of their counterpart so both can work collaboratively to meet the overall company goals. Kickoff meetings are the perfect way to begin aligning departments to make it a true team effort.

Make It Work
With the impact big data is having on profit margins, IT and marketing have to work together and amalgamate talents to deliver big profits. Building a strong relationship between both departments sometimes isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile and quickly becoming required. If office layouts allow, mixing placement of IT and marketing staff can help build and reinforce relationships and promote socialization and respect. The idea of “us” vs. “them” needs to be eradicated and replaced with simply, “us.”

As a marketer, I remember having difficulty understanding why something I considered a “quick” process required so much time to be produced. Similarly, I‘m sure there are plenty of IT folks out there who are tapping their toes waiting for marketing to deliver content so they can “launch” the technology behind a new campaign. Marketing and IT often don’t understand what each other is doing, but with a little communication and collaboration on both sides, and encouragement from the executive office, the end result will position a company for viable success.

 

This article was previously written by Chris Martin and appeared in TEQ Magazine.