Over the last 15 years, there are few companies who have not embarked on some form of “digital transformation” initiative, aimed at upgrading all aspects of their business to capture the quantum leaps in productivity enabled by big data and new technologies. These initiatives necessarily brought two departments that had historically little strategic collaboration —marketing and IT—into much more direct contact, and sometimes conflict. For example, as marketing technology increasingly becomes a key component of revenue generation, Gartner predicts that CMOs will outspend CIOs on technology.
At the heart of the issue are the differing charters for each team. But if the organization in total is to fully reap of the benefits of the digital era, CMOs and CIOs need to reconcile their objectives and establish a true partnership that drives the greatest success for their company.
Each team has its role
When it comes to each individual team’s priority, marketing and IT can sometimes be at odds.
For marketing, the goal is to leverage best-of-breed technology to optimize the consumer experience and shape the customer journey through technology. In other words, it’s about making sure that they’re using the best technology, and that they’re optimizing the usage of that technology to create the best user experience.
For IT, however, the primary goal has historically been maximizing efficiency and scale while minimizing cost. It’s about making sure that the technology is optimized along these lines and able to be implemented, but not necessarily prioritizing what any one end user—the marketer in this case—is hoping to achieve.
Both of these specialties and perspectives need to be brought together for the technology to be the most effective. Marketing brings expertise in determining what technology will produce the best experience for the consumer, but IT brings the expertise of actually implementing and running the technology in a scalable and cost-effective manner. When the two are brought together, organizations see great results.
One example of great IT and marketing collaboration comes from an unlikely company: Domino’s. Believe it or not, the pizza company is a technology company at its core, with its biggest single department being IT. Domino’s doesn’t just leverage emerging technologies—it creates them, and uses innovations like the Pizza Tracker and a partnership with Ford’s connected cars as key marketing touchpoints for their consumers. Whether pizza lovers are tracking who’s making their pie and when it will be ready, or ordering straight from the console of their connected cars, this technology goes beyond making it easier to order a pizza and turns it into an experience.
How to make IT and marketing collaboration work
There are some marketers who still choose technology without IT’s input. But when it comes down to it, bringing in IT early on is important for ensuring proper vetting and effective adoption of a new marketing technology. When the technology touches on the use of consumer or customer data, there are also legal reasons to ensure IT is engaged from the outset.
IT needs to understand, however, that efficiency isn’t the only end goal. The most cost-effective or technology-forward solution isn’t always the right solution—if it doesn’t allow the marketing department to create the best experience for the consumer.
By bringing the two teams together, you get to leverage the expertise of both: IT in managing and scaling technology, and marketing in using the technology to drive market differentiation and consumer preference.
As in many cases, there are disadvantages of joint management. There’s no single decision maker, and it can lead to friction and frustration amongst coworkers. However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, especially when you consider the fact that marketing isn’t the only team joining forces with IT.
Product is also increasingly working hand-in-hand with IT to bring great technological advances to life. Volvo’s Roam delivery service, the brainchild of CIO Klas Bendrik, is a great example of a successful IT product integration and also a marketing slam dunk—imagine the fun Volvo’s marketing team had in promoting a service that delivers drivers’ online orders right to their trunks!
If you consider the power of connecting not only IT and marketing, but IT, product, and marketing, it’s easy to see how companies that establish a culture of collaboration today will have the greatest opportunities to capture consumers’ attention, heart, and wallet moving forward.