Who is Your Real Customer: IT or the Business?

August 12, 2011
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It used to be that if you were selling technology, you talked to IT. They were the ones who understood and controlled the role of technology, and they knew how to select a product that would support the business needs and still fit within the technical architecture. Technology vendors typically only called on IT with messaging focused mostly on technology and not so much the business value.

Then things began to shift. The “consumerization of IT” put technology in the hands of everyone. Apps and technology crossed the barrier from consumer to enterprise. Employees use their personal devices for work productivity. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps meant for consumers are now being brought into the workplace.

Business users have become savvy about how to meet their own needs. At the same time, they were given budget responsibility for projects that included technology. Business users began to select and implement technology outside of IT—many doing so without even letting their IT department know until they were ready to toss it over to production. Technology vendors were quick to respond to this shift by changing their message to support business value instead of IT integration.

This made the divide between IT and the business grow even further.

While much has been said about closing the gap between the business and IT, not much has been said about creating a marketing message that does so. As proof, I’m writing a white paper right now, geared ONLY to the IT reader that addresses only architecture, data, and security topics. The goal is to get IT on board with a product that the business already wants or even has.

It’s come to the point that the real customer is a blend of business and IT. It’s not an either/or. They should no longer be thought of as separate and in some cases may even be one in the same. The sales force needs to make sure that both teams are at the table together.

It’s not an easy job for marketing. They need to provide sales with information that supports both the business value and functionality, as well as providing the technical assurance that IT needs.  Marketing assets should include content with a combined message and deeper content that provides more specific information, geared specifically towards business function and value or technical features.

IT is not a necessary evil as some say. Nor are business users ignorant about technology. IT is an integral part of making the business successful, yet IT wouldn’t exist if the business didn’t see value in their services. While it may be easier to sell to just one side, technology marketers need to acknowledge that harmony between both will help their product be successful in the organization for the long run.