At one time, marketing and information technology departments had very different, unrelated functions and goals. Marketing was the home of the "people person," able to understand and effectively communicate with prospects and clients. IT housed the "computer guy," who knew everything about talking to machines but had the stereotype of not being all that great with people.
But now, those knowledge areas have blurred. As a marketer, much of your job involves navigating the complexities of the World Wide Web, computing campaign effectiveness and managing customer information databases. Information technology still deals with hardware and software, but it is hardware and software that is largely used to connect and manage people.
Bringing It All TogetherBecause of this, marketing and IT are now more interrelated and interdependent than ever before. It makes sense that the two departments would work together.
However, in the majority of cases, they don't. An IBM study found that 60 percent of chief marketing officers consider the lack of integration between marketing and IT to be the No. 1 obstacle they face in trying to reach potential customers.
It is a big problem, but it is an internal one that is fully within the organization's power to fix. Below are some things you can do to help improve coordination between these two vital functions.
- Open a dialogue. It is all about communication. As a marketer, that is something you are supposed to be good at. Go down to where the IT department is hiding, and start discussing how each side can do a better job of helping the other out. Remember (and communicate) that you are all on the same team, and simply have different areas of expertise within that team. There is competition involved, but the competition is not between the departments; it is between your company and the rest of the world. The best way to compete, therefore, is to work together.
- Take a big-picture approach. You want to form an overall strategy for moving forward together. It is not all about collaborating on specific projects. Sure, you will work together on some tasks, but those will happen naturally if you have established a long-term culture of working together.
- Respect their expertise. Considering a new content management system or cloud computing service? Wondering how to best add a mobile version of your website without affecting SEO? The IT department can be a real help, and will likely appreciate that you showed respect for their knowledge and role. It can also help make their job easier, since they can ensure the technical aspects are compatible and make sense with your company's existing systems.
- Utilize collaborative technology. This is all about working together, and your IT counterpart may have (and may prefer working with) enterprise-level networking and collaboration software. That way, you can both help keep each other stay informed and keep joint projects on track.
By working together, the marketing and IT departments can make each other's lives easier--and, more importantly, make your company's marketing and customer management efforts more effective.
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