Should Marketing Executives Skip the IT Department?

July 6, 2009
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avoidAs marketers become more tech-savvy, the demands they place on corporate information technology (IT) departments often increase. Unable and reluctant to meet the demands of marketing, IT sometimes turns a deaf ear to change and budget requests causing marketers to go it alone. However, going it alone—without IT—can create headaches, internal conflict, and strip marketing of budget that should be used for marketing programs. Should “marketing” be working closer with IT, or taking control of its own destiny?

With the ubiquity of smart phones (including iPhone and Blackberry), social networking platforms and marketing applications, marketers have more technology choices than ever before to help them communicate and interact with customers.

And by adding software-as-a-service (SaaS), application service providers (ASPs), and marketing agencies to the mix—marketers can effectively get their needs met—often without the help of their local IT professionals. But is doing an “end-run” around IT appropriate—or recommended?

CIOs are starting to realize that business (in this instance marketing) executives are becoming more, and more tech savvy, and that either IT should help enable and drive ..

avoidAs marketers become more tech-savvy, the demands they place on corporate information technology (IT) departments often increase. Unable and reluctant to meet the demands of marketing, IT sometimes turns a deaf ear to change and budget requests causing marketers to go it alone. However, going it alone—without IT—can create headaches, internal conflict, and strip marketing of budget that should be used for marketing programs. Should “marketing” be working closer with IT, or taking control of its own destiny?

With the ubiquity of smart phones (including iPhone and Blackberry), social networking platforms and marketing applications, marketers have more technology choices than ever before to help them communicate and interact with customers.

And by adding software-as-a-service (SaaS), application service providers (ASPs), and marketing agencies to the mix—marketers can effectively get their needs met—often without the help of their local IT professionals. But is doing an “end-run” around IT appropriate—or recommended?

CIOs are starting to realize that business (in this instance marketing) executives are becoming more, and more tech savvy, and that either IT should help enable and drive the business or get out of the way.

An article in Information Week,Don’t Let Tech-Savvy Business Execs Do an End-Run Around IT,” gives CIOs tips on tactics to regain control of the technologies within an enterprise and work more closely with business users.

Suggestions for IT managers (paraphrased) include:

• Making it corporate policy that all IT contracts must be co-signed by IT
• Making closer connections to business departments
• Keeping an open mind
• Letting business users “test” their ideas
• Providing technology choices—not mandates
• Communicating clearly and concisely

In the article, some CIOs lament that business users aren’t as tech savvy as they should be (translate—they don’t know what they want much less what they need). And CIOs often see business users buying technology that could help more than just their own departments if widely deployed.

Other CIOs quoted in the article grow weary of cleaning up the messes that business users make when they try and tackle enterprise technologies.

For the record, I strongly support working closely, hand-in-hand, with your local CIO on technology-driven initiatives.

Arguably, your CIO has an enterprise-wide view, and can help ensure your technology investments “fit” and integrate with other corporate systems.

CIOs can also assist with “re-use” of technologies, defraying some of the costs to other business units. In addition, in many instances CIOs have significantly larger budgets and might be able to fund technology investments so marketers don’t have to spend meager marketing budgets on applications or infrastructure.

In addition, as detailed in a MarketingProfs article, I believe that to survive and capitalize on the exponential trends of technology and data growth, CIOs and CMOs will have to align strategies, pool resources, communicate more effectively, and find common ground wherever possible.

However, taking off my Pollyanna glasses, I realize that in some companies, due to politics, budgets, organizational silos or fractious personalities—avoiding an end-run around IT may not always be possible.

Questions:
• Do you work effectively with your IT department on initiatives that drive the business?
• Have you found instances where it’s better to go-it-alone?
• Some CIOs lament that marketers aren’t tech savvy—do you know as much about technology as you should?

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