Change is hard and, for many, not well received. When change happens fast, people tend to reject it and hold onto the control they're familiar with, often creating new unexpected conflicts. Marketing teams and IT departments are now blended in the wake of the migration of web content from “infrastructure” to “marketing asset,” and the result is a difference of priorities and perspectives.
IT and marketing grievances need to be settled, and the two departments need to get on the same page about governance and goals. To do so, it's important to review how the disconnect between the departments began and then work on how to fix it.
Shifts to Website Management
For those spending any time in the web industry over the last 20 years, they will likely remember marketers having to ask IT for changes to even the smallest of elements — and perhaps that's even how things are done in organizations relying on legacy systems today. The IT department was once responsible — and still is for those without a flexible content management system (CMS) — for publishing content, building web pages and managing the website overall. Now, there are tools that marketers can easily use to create complex content scenarios as quickly as dragging and dropping. With cloud-hosting environments, IT is cut out of the picture further since it no longer needs to micro-manage server size, location, uptime/downtime and traffic. Finally, the pricing models of software are transformed in many cases, so marketers are empowered to purchase a product (or what they need of that product) for a monthly subscription fee vs. thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars up front. For these reasons, the role of website management dramatically shifted from IT to marketing, and rightfully so.
Whereas IT has traditionally owned platform production and management, marketers are now demanding convenience and ease when using software in the enterprise that comes in the form of self-service. Marketers are among the savviest of consumers, and they're accustomed to a world where all of their goals can be accomplished with just a click or an app open away — e.g., request a ride (Lyft), purchase an item in one click (Amazon.com), buy and sell stocks (Stash), send money to friends (Venmo), use a fingerprint or facial scan to sign in (Apple). In the workplace, marketers are demanding similar functionality and trying (often successfully) to take over the buying of marketing technology to enable them to do more, for less and without IT. The cloud, software/product-as-a-service models and the technology itself are enabling marketers to bypass a lot of bureaucratic red tape, but it could be to the detriment of security and speed as marketing technology stacks get bloated and break when integrations, scale and exchange of data aren't considered.
What's happening in many organizations is that marketing team members — when they have some control over the budget — are coming to IT too late (e.g., after they bought something and it needs to talk to other systems or when something breaks down or is breached). As much as marketing would like to be the sole purveyors of their company’s technology stack, IT needs to be part of the purchasing decisions early and often to ensure technology fits into the larger ecosystem, that marketing can get access to the data they need, and that security and firewalls are accounted for. IT, in this case, is a friend rather than a foe.
Divided by Goals
While IT and marketing’s goals may be different — marketing is looking to create action from end-users and IT is looking for budget efficiency and smooth operations — they live in intertwined worlds where conflict is avoidable and the benefits of working together can be quickly realized.
If marketing can work with IT, for example, they can synch with the rest of the organization and not operate in a silo nor have their technology work disparately. IT, for example, can support marketers’ goal of producing more leads by creating a data ecosystem in which all digital channels of the organization seamlessly share contacts and visitor information.
IT, however, isn't blameless in the disconnect between the two departments. IT needs to consider marketing’s objectives and help them build an infrastructure that empowers them to do daily, weekly and monthly tasks without IT involvement. Take, for instance, a company with a brick-and-mortar store and an online shop. Regardless of how many solutions marketing picks up to connect the two channels, only IT can open the doors between the two to connect in-store purchases, for example, to an online visitor. True omnichannel operations and other multichannel organizational goals happen when IT and marketing are in synch. When marketing knows IT can help them create workflows, role systems and data exchanges, the more likely they will be to involve them. When IT knows that marketing needs to quickly publish content for business value, they may understand their demands a bit more.
When Everything Talks, Everyone Wins
Like in any relationship, communication is key. Despite marketing wanting to break down silos so systems talk to each other to get a complete picture of a customer, it's creating further separation internally with the IT department. Consequently, IT becomes combative, shooting down any ideas marketing brings to it so marketing cuts them out. When IT and marketing communicate, the entire ecosystem can start to communicate to the benefit of greater governance, improved data exchange, tighter security, faster speed, and more goals achieved.
Jeff Cheal is the director of product strategy for personalization, campaign and analytics at Episerver, a company that unifies digital content, commerce and marketing in one platform, including omnichannel solutions for smart personalization and intelligent campaigns.
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