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Avoiding the IT and Marketing Collision Course

IT and marketing are colliding. Research paints a clear picture of how these two historically silo-ed groups are slamming into each other where dollars and (common) sense intersect. According to IDC, nearly 60 percent of new IT investment in 2013 will be driven by the line-of-business, and by 2017, CMO’s will out-spend CIO’s on IT, Gartner predicts.

/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/handshake_244843.jpgEven though these two worlds are colliding, their strategies could not be more different. Marketing is not interested in buying new servers or routers – they’d rather tap into the innovation of the cloud and the flexibility it affords to meet their needs. Whether to better manage leads and content, to understand social sentiment, or just to handle good old-fashioned marketing automation, they want faster time-to-value and deeper customer engagement in order to guide their customers from merely a prospect to a promoter.

Because  marketing is now making the calls on technology platforms, IT is increasingly being alienated by this shift in spending and then getting hit on the back end once marketing or the other lines of business decide they need to integrate their environments. Who is left to pick up the pieces of this corporate dysfuntion? Yes, you guessed it: you.

Yes, you. Whether you’re the customer of this company who is left out to dry, with pieces of your customer journey scattered across multiple systems, just waiting to be used in an uninspired marketing campaign because IT and marketing are not on speaking terms.

Or maybe it’s the you who works at this very company within a silo-ed team, competing for the same limited resources, having to ask too many of the wrong questions, and trying to move forward your team’s agenda – all while leaving the customer behind.

On the flip side, it could be the you who’s the nimble competitor, breathing down your rival’s neck with baited breath, ready to rip customers right out from under them. And you’re able to do this relatively easily because you know what customers want, you know how to talk to them on their terms and most importantly you operate as one team – company wide.

Yes – let’s not underestimate the power and transformative effect of a bridge between IT and marketing. When the gap starts narrow, the CIO becomes an advocate of the business, and in turn marketing sees the possibility of capturing the round-trip loop of the customer journey across multiple points of engagement. Merging these two perspectives around the shared objectives of serving the customer is not only critical, but it can become your competitive advantage.

And who knows? Maybe your CMO and CIO actually go to lunch to discuss their shared responsibility in growing your business the right way.

We’d love to hear what you think.


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      Author's profile photo Sam Bayer
      Sam Bayer


      Spot on! 

      Since I deal with the eCommerce challenges that SAP Manufacturers have on a daily basis, I can tell you that I am constantly at "ground zero" of these wars.  The irony is that they're not too far apart at all.  If only the CIO and CMO would play nice with one another long enough to hear each other out, they would actually love to find out that thanks to the cloud, they can both have their cake and eat it too.

      My experience, in the eCommerce world, is that CMOs are mostly interested in content, presentation, usability, increasing traffic, growing revenue and building brand. 

      CIOs are responsible for their SAP implementations.  So aside from infrastructure, they are responsible for supporting "everything else" required to run the business.  Customer Services, Distribution, Finance etc...which are typically the things that CMOs really don't care at all about.

      Ground zero is when the order gets placed. In the B2B world, inventory has to be checked, contract pricing has to be presented, credit worthiness has to be checked, etc.  CMOs don't want to pay for those services.  However, all the money in the world spent on  traffic building, search optimizing and merchandising will be for naught if the product isn't available to ship from SAP. 

      In the B2C world, things are easy.  I've seen CMO's make the decision (and pay the price) to duplicate all of that operational information that's in SAP in their standalone websites.  But in the growing B2B world, if the two systems aren't integrated in real time, you have a real disaster on your hands.

      That's where the cloud comes in. 

      It can not only provide the content management and user experience that CMOs crave control over, but can be the vehicle to integrate that to a corporation's SAP landscape.

      CMO's get what they want.  CIO's get what they want.  The cloud bridges the gap quickly and inexpensively.

      If only they would listen to one another.

      I have evidence to suggest that more and more of them are. 🙂


      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Rob, thank you for a great blog. If I had a chance, I'd ask "marketing" - why don't you trust your own IT to pick up a tool that would be the best fit for the company's short- and long-term goals and blend with existing landscape? Just in the past couple of years we had our share of "surprise, surprise!" projects when someone selects an application and it gets dropped on our team to support. Sadly, sometimes that application uses an obsolete technology and requires way more TLC than the sales pitch probably disclosed.

      It seems nowadays people diagnose themselves on WebMD or buy some shady supplements because they read something ("it's on the Internet, so it must be true!") instead of asking for an advice from their doctor.

      But unlike some doctors, the IT department has as much investment in the company's success as marketing does. We don't want to spend our time supporting a buggy interface, we'd much rather build something that works and is usefull.

      Author's profile photo Sam Bayer
      Sam Bayer

      Hi Jelena,

      My experience is that the business makes decisions without consulting IT because IT extend your doctor metaphor...terrible bedside manner. 

      Why would I ask advice of someone whose queue is incredibly long, has a very high entry fee, and ends up saying "no" most of the time anyway?

      The business seeks out these "suboptimal" solutions because they are pressured to do order to grow revenues, find new customers, sell new products etc.  IT is so busy keeping things operating, secure, backed up, upgraded, supported that they not only don't have the capacity to help the business...but they've lost the will to do so.

      Until IT figures out how to be proactive in helping the business...not just enforcing standards and superimposing heavy processes and costs...the business will continue to drag malnourished stray cats in through the front door and expect IT to nurse them back to health.

      I've always felt that internal IT organizations really should compete for their livelihood as opposed to behaving like a monopoly.  Maybe that would help them become more customer oriented.


      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Sam - fair enough. But if IT is constantly understaffed (as you correctly pointed out - too busy supporting, etc.) and not encouraged to spend time to keep their skills and knowledge up to date and in-tune with the business needs then it points to a different issue, doesn't it?

      Interestingly, I've heard similar comments from some of our business users as well. But in most cases it was like 3 years ago someone from IT did something and they've been holding the grudge ever since. Whoever treated them wrong has been long gone but still "oh, I'm not going to talk to you because there is no use and you're all the same in IT". It's just childish. We schedule regular meetings with business SMEs, but then no one shows up or calls. I honestly don't know how much we can "figure out" when there is no dialog.

      Author's profile photo Sam Bayer
      Sam Bayer


      There really isn't much you can figure out if there isn't any dialog.  You're 100% correct.  Quite sad actually.  My only suggestion to you is to treat the relationship like any relationship where the trust has been broken.  First decide if it's worth healing.  If it is, than trust is built back up one small step at a time. 

      At the end of the day, the organization needs real leadership.  That too is lacking in most businesses.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Rob,

      Well stated. At Progress DataDirect, Business Objects Universe customers come to us to provide connectivity to customer data in cloud CRM applications like Salesforce. Being able to bridge the data gap between the CIO and CMO verticals of the enterprise is critical to optimizing enterprise profitability. Couldn't agree more that embracing the hybrid environment and fostering these relationships and sharing data is the way forward.