Businesses are becoming increasingly customer centric, which is moving the focus of marketing efforts firmly onto improving the customer experience.
To help with meeting that core objective, marketers are looking every which way for technology that can help them deliver a better customer experience. They want to do it all, and they want to do it now!
IT teams, on the other hand, have been in the game of buying and implementing technology a little longer. They know there are considerations that have to be made before diving in headfirst, and they’ve dealt with the repercussions of security and integration issues.
With the lines blurring between technology ownership, I’ve been looking into how the relationship between the two teams is – or isn’t – working.
Are marketing people treading on their IT department’s toes when they purchase technology? Are IT managers becoming frustrated when marketing colleagues bring in new tech without involving them in the decision-making process?
Is there agreement on the need to work together and how? Is anyone actually getting the IT and marketing collaboration right, or is there trouble in paradise?
We surveyed 100 marketing and 110 IT professionals to find out. These are a few of the things we learnt:
IT people think they work well with marketing, but…
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that 78% of IT people think they work collaboratively with marketing. The bad news is that only 58% of marketers agree that’s the case.
This suggests that in 20% of businesses, there are IT people blissfully unaware that the marketing department they think they’re getting along with are either unsatisfied with their working relationship or simply not embracing collaboration.
It’s an interesting disconnect, indicating that it is generally marketing is the less satisfied party here, or perhaps that some marketing people don’t even see a need for collaboration with IT.
Either way, it does suggest that there is an element of misunderstanding of each other’s priorities, and difficulty in putting in place a mutual roadmap.
Customer experience is almost all that marketing cares about
We split web strategy into 10 different areas, and asked marketing and IT people which of those areas they felt they should be working together on.
Once again, IT came off as the more eager group, indicating a greater desire for collaboration for seven out of the 10 categories in comparison to their marketing counterparts.
There were marginally more marketing people interested in collaborating with IT on social media analytics, and the two groups seem to be aligned on their influence on marketing automation platforms.
But in every other category, including ecommerce platforms, web hosting solutions, content management, analytics and business intelligence and mobile strategies, IT is much more keen on a collaborative approach than marketing is.
The only area that the majority of marketing people (70%) agree they need to collaborate with IT is the customer experience. So it makes sense that this is all marketing should be concerned with, and fundamentally all 10 different areas of web and data strategy ultimately filter into customer experience.
This suggests that marketing needs to focus on the bigger picture and bring IT in on that rather than outsourcing certain elements in silo, expecting IT purely to deliver without the overarching strategy.
It’s all about real time access to the right data
Data is at the heart of the new approach to customer experience management, so we asked both groups about what their priorities and challenges are in this area.
For IT, the biggest issues they hit are security (both that of company data and with customer data), cost and the complexity of integration.
They are struggling with implementing data-led technology in a way that works with all their other systems, fits with regulations around security and all within a reasonable cost. Perhaps then it’s no surprise they want to sanity check some of the technology decision making being made by marketing.
It seems these difficulties are impacting on marketing professionals too, who told us that having access to the right data in real time is their highest priority.
However, more than a third of marketers told us they did not actually had access to any customer data, while only 29% have access to any kind of data in real time.
Despite the growing importance of data and its usage in customer experience, it seems that both marketing and IT people are struggling to make an effective strategy a reality. There is a disconnect which seems to be resulting in a lack of important abilities for the business, such as the access to real time data.
Given that customer experience is such a huge priority for marketing, and by extension the whole business, it is clear that this is the area that they need to start working more closely with IT.
In order for this to be achieved both groups need to be able to have a mutual roadmap and influence on the strategy, as well as an understanding what kind of data they really need in order to make informed decisions and implement that strategy.
This might take some development on marketing’s part in order to understand how processes work and what really impacts their business, which demands that IT be given equal partner status in this relationship and not be viewed simply as being responsible for delivery.