Unlike the ongoing marketing versus sales saga, the tale of woe between marketing and IT is one that is destined for a happy ending. This will happen because pressures from customer expectations, marketing accountability, and an increasing reliance on technology to satisfy both are forcing it to. But also because there are more ways that the two groups align than many marketing or technology leaders may realize.
During her keynote presentation at the Direct Marketing News Marketing&Tech Partnership Summit, sponsored by Bizo, Gartner Research VP Laura McLellan told a rapt audience that “marketing and IT need to focus more on what they have in common than on their differences.”
According to McLellan, both teams:
- Love new technology
- Think big
- Deliver results without the budgets they should have
- Believe in the future of digital
So, what will it take to get marketing and IT together?
McLellan advised that they move purposefully through the 5 C’s of marketing-IT collaboration: from conflicting to coping to commingling to collaborating to creating. Additionally, they need to shed legacy assumptions, understand their differences, and work to overcome them. For example, IT doesn’t like to fail; whereas marketing needs to fail early and often to succeed. The two teams need to increase negotiations in terms of responsibilities, budgets, skilled personnel, technologies, and partners. “They have to build new ecosystems [because] sales and marketing channels are collapsing and becoming one,” McLellan said.
One change McLellan noted is the growth of the chief marketing technologist position: a strategy person at one level, making recommendations on technology; and operational at another level, where they’re actually running the technology. “It runs the gamut from company to company,” she said, noting that 70% of enterprise companies already have a chief marketing technologist, 80% of whom sit in the marketing department. Almost two thirds of them have an IT background; some come from marketing operations. Almost all of them are being hired from outside their organizations, McLellan said. She also noted that as a marketer you need a combination of art and science. “It will always be that way,” she said.
Another way to bring marketing and IT closer together is for the two teams to jointly look at customer engagement trends, McLellan said. As customer expectations continue to increase, organizations need to think from the outside in, i.e. be customer-led: start with the customer and work from there, not from an internal focus, she said.
Most of all, marketing and IT should focus on where they work best together: analytics, digital commerce, and mobile. Do this and “marketing and IT can be the dynamic duo,” McLellan said. “This is the most exciting time in the world to be in marketing, I’m convinced.”