Modern Marketing

Forget ‘The Bachelorette’: IT + Marketing is the New Romance

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Not very long ago, the main interactions between marketers and the IT department were around upgrading phones, storing files on a backup drive, or maybe transferring someone to the coolest new Mac from an aging PC. Otherwise, marketers only approached IT when the situation was dire.

Let me give some examples from my own experience:

Common scenario 1: I need to access our wiki, intranet, Box, or some other internal site for critical document, and would happily give IT my lunch and all the money in my wallet to get in.

Common scenario 2: I have a huge presentation, forget to save the deck, and my computer crashes – I would give away my brand new puppy to get the deck back.

Common scenario 3: My hard drive no longer works (this is the worst possible case). Could be a virus! I need help – I would consider selling my tiny, beloved children – don’t care, NEED files!

While *incidents* like these still happen (hopefully they don’t happen to you!), lately I have observed a new kind of interaction between marketing and IT, and a change in the organizational structures within companies. Why? It is a unique time in history for marketers – more than ever before, we depend heavily on technology to get our jobs done. Because of that increased dependency, marketing is learning to view IT as less of an emergency support team, and more of a partner.

Here are some ways that organizations now structure collaboration between marketing and IT:

1. IT and marketing are in different departments, but work in a friendly, collaborative manner.

Ever since the widespread adoption of marketing software, I’ve been observing this structure more and more. When I was evaluating marketing automation software at my former company, I worked with my IT team and included them in the evaluation.

I knew what I wanted, as a marketer, but I also recognized IT had a stake in this – and it was important to include them upfront. Realistically, I was not going to be the person setting up the sandbox to test synching leads. This approach worked well – my IT team did not feel like I sprang something on them, and by including them upfront, I was able to easily address any questions they had.

2. The marketing department has a few dedicated IT resources on their team to support critical tools.

This structure is less established that the first, but it’s becoming more common. In companies using this structure, the marketing team has a dedicated IT point person, or a full team member who supports marketing and the tools they need to drive their business.

Because more marketers are using and relying on massive amounts of data, databases that store the data, and all the apps/tools that work with this data, having access to IT is incredibly important – in many cases, it’s imperative. For example, at Marketo we have a dedicated developer to help us with any website related projects. Over the next few years, I predict that more marketers will have a combination of marketing and programming skills.

3. The marketing department has a large IT team

This is definitely more of an outlier than the first two structures, but to me it is incredibly intriguing. Now that so much technology is available to marketers, the need for IT resources has only grown, and some marketing departments now have large teams of IT people reporting directly to them. Marketers heavily rely on the tools to optimize, support, manage, and analyze data – why not own more of the resources to support these efforts? (In fact, earlier this month at a marketing event, I spoke to a marketer who said her company’s entire IT team reports to marketing – I know it sounds unlikely, but it’s true!)

While the flavors of IT and marketing relations can vary, the trend is clear: marketers are becoming more technically aware, and IT is becoming more closely aligned with marketing. What have you observed?