The traditional role OF IT has been network deployment and administration. Success is measured in terms of uptime and cost.
To help achieve this goal, IT has often relied on “restricting access” to co-workers and employees in the firm. Based on the logic (usually correct) that you cannot break what you cannot touch. Unfortunately for the perfectionist IT manager, the purpose of a business is not 99.9999 per cent uptime.
As we gaze into the future, it appears that the current role of IT will remain largely the same. Computers will still need to have up-to-date software, security will still be a chief concern, uptime access will remain to be vital, and Murphy’s Law will continue to hold. Meanwhile, as marketing departments grow and evolve, they will need to develop their own IT capabilities causing inevitable friction, conflict & full-blown turf wars.
From an IT manager’s perspective, these problems can be minimized by first understanding where conflicts are most likely to occur:
Website/CMS: The task of forming and communicating a coherent message to target customers is unquestionably the role of marketing, yet it is still common to have IT serving as a go-between marketing and the company Web site. The marketing department will increasingly demand greater control and empowerment to cope with faster communication cycles.
CRM: After fits, starts, and outright disasters, CRM is here to stay. In addition to traditional database targeting, most modern CRM systems allow for the tracking and organization of marketing campaigns, including e-mail and traditional print media. However, this increased capability requires greater resources on the part of the marketing department. In larger organizations, the maintenance of client/prospect data can be a daunting challenge for understaffed technical personnel.
To meet the growing technical needs of the marketing department, executive management can employ any one of the following strategies:
Closer Collaboration: With regular and effective communication, IT and marketing work together to accomplish a company’s marketing goals. This rarely works to satisfaction particularly with overworked IT managers/departments that are constantly forced to react to problems and technical emergencies.
IT Liaison: This strategy involves the marketing department hiring its own staff to plan, implement and administer the company’s marketing applications (e.g. CRM). This strategy tends to work better in larger organizations that can bear the increased personnel costs.
Outsourcing Marketing-related IT: Bringing in outside teams that work directly under the marketing department, but coordinate with the firm’s IT staff can be an attractive option. Proponents argue that this approach can provide increased flexibility and lower costs over the long run.
Grant Aldrich is director of client services at Leadtank, a lead generation firm. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.