How can marketing and IT work better together?


As marketers, “Our future lies in our ability to create really interesting things,” says Robert Rose, Senior Advisor at The Content Advisory. The flip side of that, however, is that many marketers today are “expected to be on demand pdf creation machines.”

To accomplish these two contradictory goals requires strategy, planning and marketing technology.

Technology makes us optimistic about the future, says Rose, but marketers are often hesitant to make technology purchases, especially if they have to work through a complex purchase and implementation process with IT.

At a Content Marketing World breakout session in Cleveland earlier this month, Rose proposed a way to overcome the tension that sometimes exists between marketing and IT, especially when the two organizations have opposing strategies. Namely:

  • IT wants to change as little as possible to maintain what the company is already doing. IT is focused on winning the long race and avoiding chaos.
  • Marketers, on the other hand, want to tweak, fine tune, test and run experiments all the time.

“This puts us in conflict with each other,” says Rose, “And it puts us in the land of 'no.'”

It’s important to realize that both teams can be right, and they both have a role to play. “If we can have a better discussion, we can evolve with technology in a bit of a saner way,” says Rose

His solution recognizes four layers of technology, and it’s “built to change.” It starts with a conversation between marketers and IT, communicating in a common way to reach a shared goal.

First, recognize which of these four types of technology you are purchasing:

  1. Awareness and introduction. These are technology solutions that help you become aware to your customers. These are often cloud based systems, and IT should be often be less involved, allowing marketers to stand up a blog or a microsite.
  2. Engagement and experiences. These solutions allow marketers to interact and have transactions with customers to personalizing content and send regular notifications. They might require more of an enterprise solution. Here, you should dig deeper into technology requirements because we don’t want to change existing systems or overlap if you don’t have to.
  3. Intelligence and insight. These systems provide deep level data and deep CRM capabilities, where data itself needs to be rock solid. Now, it’s becoming more important for IT to be involved.
  4. Meta layer. These are the core data management solutions for the company that are essential for business operations (and sometimes for regulatory requirements). Here, IT and marketing should agree on shared values and exceed expectations for core data management with strict IT control.

Once IT and marketing can agree on the above four descriptions, Rose says they can use this 8-step process for evaluating new technology:

  1. Validate the business need.
  2. Compile business requirements.
  3. Determine focal needs, including timeline, creative needs and unique requirements.
  4. Create a technology shortlist.
  5. Create a service provider list.
  6. Conduct information exchanges (do this before the RFP).
  7. Conduct an RFP that is scenario based. Build scenarios and see how vendors apply their technology to your specific needs.
  8. Request a proof of concept. Depending on the level of engagement, paying can be worth it, especially if you’re looking at an important technology, and it’s a decision you only want to make one time.

In conclusion, Rose said, “We’re no longer knowledge workers. We’re wisdom workers. We create interesting experiences and let technology facilitate those experiences.”


About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

+Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

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