How to Bridge the Marketing-IT Divide

Frustrated by long IT rollouts, speed-driven marketing teams are taking matters into their own hands. But there are ways CIOs can reach out.

Every day we see examples of how the customer is gaining power over everything from brands to governments. Today’s digital economy demands that marketing teams react at the speed of the market: product-development lifecycles that once lasted years are now compressed into months or weeks; customer-service expectations have moved from same-day response to instant response; public relations snafus must now be handled in minutes, not days; and marketing campaigns must be adjusted in real time based on instant feedback from social media.

In this new empowered era, technology is vital to success. Yet for many marketing teams, IT looks like a slow, outdated group that is stuck in the last century, trying to re-engineer business processes with vast ERP systems that take years to implement. As a result, chief marketing officers have been looking to the cloud and software as a service for their technology needs, bypassing IT. Unfortunately, it is the CIO who has to pick up the pieces when it comes to integration and security.

There are signs, however, that IT and marketing are beginning to resolve long-held misunderstandings. Progressive CIOs with strong CMO partnerships are hiring IT professionals with experience in marketing services to work alongside marketing teams on projects. To drive more speed, these IT leaders are embracing process changes focused on delivering continuous results.

To improve relations between IT and marketing, Forrester recommends the following:

  • Move IT from the department of “no” to the department of “here’s how” by enabling early pilots of new technologies that support marketing campaigns.
  • Get agreement with the marketing leadership team on the skills and resources the IT team will bring to help stretch limited marketing dollars.
  • Set up a joint IT-marketing team—marketing explains what needs to happen and IT shows them how.

    For CIOs willing to make the leap, marketing is the biggest opportunity for IT since the Internet.

    Nigel Fenwick is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

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