Mar Tech can help you achieve better results and efficiencies—or it can sit unused while your team keeps doing things the way they always have. Whether the investment in a piece of marketing technology pays off has a lot to do with getting the onboarding process right, and doing that well depends on working with IT.
Why Marketing Collaboration with IT is Important
Unfortunately, according to P. Tracy Currie, CEO of the management consulting firm Capto, in most organizations “marketing…is not a good consumer of IT services.“
Knowing that the IT department’s priority is maintaining legacy systems, marketing departments often feel that going to IT will be too slow or difficult. Instead, they look outside the company and hire independent consultants to help get new tech set up, causing what Currie describes as “shadow IT.”
As a result, you end up with a lot of products that aren’t working together—an inefficient “tech sprawl.” That has a cost for marketing.
“If you think about it, your most strategic asset from a marketing perspective is the data that you have about your customers. No one else has that data,” Currie explains. “If you’ve got Mar Tech sprawl because the marketing department is not working effectively with IT, and it comes time to use that corporate asset about your customers effectively, it becomes much harder.”
Mar Tech sprawl leaves your data stuck in silos. And over time as you add more tech products, the costs will be higher when the company tries to retroactively fix it.
When you work closely with IT instead of trying to go around them, they can both help you proactively avoid that kind of Mar Tech sprawl, and possibly provide insights early in the process to help you understand the tech options available for solving your business problems. That could mean making better use of the products you already have. There might be features you’ve overlooked or a different product to consider that might offer a better solution for your needs.
Either way, effective collaboration gets you better results for less.
How to Effectively Work with IT for Your Onboarding Process
Collaborating with IT may not come naturally to your marketing team, so here are a few steps to consider to get started on the right foot.
1. Start working with them early—even before you buy the tech.
If you only bring IT in after you’ve selected and bought a new product, you’re missing an opportunity to benefit from their insights. Instead, Currie recommends bringing IT into the process from the time you’ve established the challenge you want to solve.
“For example the marketing team may suggest that adding macro economic data into a predictive churn model may yield improved results,” he says. “IT can come back with the most effective way of ingesting this data, perhaps using data already in the cloud rather than obtaining, cleansing, and onboarding the data set locally, to dramatically reduce implementation time and costs.”
When IT is involved from the beginning, they can weigh solutions that save time and money while still achieving the main results you seek.
2. Create a process for buying Mar Tech based on business needs.
One error Currie and his team often see marketers making is letting vendors or agencies guide their decisions in buying tech. That’s backwards. Instead of buying tech based on the problems a vendor tells you it solves, you should identify your needs first.
On the IT side, he says most mature organizations have a good model for establishing the most important needs and priorities. “It starts at the demand management side,” he explains.
“Here is the demand I am getting from all the different elements of business for projects that need to be serviced. That demand funnel goes through a budgeting process to get to a list of things you’re going to do this year.”
One of the most important parts of collaborating effectively with IT is “getting that demand funnel right,” he says.
If you develop a process for buying and using tech that ensures you buy the right Mar Tech products and prioritize the right projects for your needs, “most projects execute pretty well,” he says.
3. Get to know your IT team.
Good collaboration always requires taking time to know and understand the people you’re working with.
“To get really good at getting the most out of IT, you have to have some understanding of how IT works, what motivates them—how to organize and structure projects with them that maximizes IT capabilities and minimizes their risks,“ says Currie.
To get to that point, Currie recommends “being very explicit about building those relationships.”
That includes meeting consistently during any onboarding project you do together, but also staying in communication between projects. Figure out the best system and channels for staying in touch on a regular basis, to keep the lines of communication open and maintain relationships so future projects run more smoothly.
4. Treat working with IT as a skill set.
Currie also recommends treating working with IT as you would any other skill you work to develop in the course of your career.
“I think that marketing departments have got to build new skills. One of the new skills they need to build is certainly to be technologically aware … but the biggest skill is … [to] know how to buy IT services, how to govern the spend, and how to be sure they get the results.”
“Building those skills is probably more important than becoming deeply expert in technology,” he emphasizes.
As tech becomes an ever more important part of the everyday jobs marketers do, working effectively with IT to get the most out of the tech you have will only become a more valuable skill to cultivate.
Marketing Collaboration during Onboarding is Just the Beginning
You know you need IT when you’re getting a new Mar Tech product up and running, but Currie’s recommendations make it clear, if that’s the only time you’re including them in your marketing strategy, you’re probably missing out.
“Today, IT departments aspire to be effective business partners and help their various other domains within a business to be more effective,” says Currie. But “one of the facets that marketing leaders miss is how to engage and effectively work with IT.”
Marketers now depend on the daily use of a number of different tech products, many of them with a complicated array of features. IT can play a role in helping you get the right products, learn how to use them in the most effective way, and make sure they all work together seamlessly. But only if your team starts to build the skill of working with IT.