A 4-part series investigating the difficulties between IT and Marketing
If you’ve been in the corporate world, you know that IT (Information Technology) and Marketing often don’t get along or at least seem to be talking past each other. Why is that?
We’ve been building websites for 7 years and have seen both the good and the bad of this classic clash. There have been really ugly situations as well as wonderful partnerships. We’re sharing our observations to get to the core of the issue.
Looking at the State of IT and Marketing
We know we’re speaking in broad generalities here, a healthy IT or Marketing group may be a very different mix.
Incentives of IT
IT usually has these aspects at their forefront:
- Stability: preventing fires, heavy problem solving
- Maintaining status quo
- Managing risk / fear of the unknown
- System integrity, Security, Scalability
- Obsession with doing things correctly
- Slow and steady / long term outlook
All of these things are threatened by change – more on that in a minute.
Incentives of Marketing
Marketing usually has these aspects at their forefront:
- Improving metrics: traffic, leads, sales
- Experimenting with new methods
- A “get it done” attitude that dislikes trivialities and minute details
- Embracing the unknown
- Fast, iterative with possibly a more near-term outlook
These things lead to an approach that only improves with constant change.
Both Sectors are Morphing
IT has gotten more complicated in some ways. They navigate the use of third party tools, Managed Services, or building resources in-house. More is expected of them, security is hard, and they handle a broad array of interrelated pieces of technology.
In the last two decades, Marketers also have seen increased pressure to acquire fairly technical skills in addition to the creative skill set that has always been expected of them. The spend on marketing software and SaaS solutions has increased dramatically.
Cost Center or Profit Center?
IT is usually considered a “cost center” within a company, even though its functions can be integral to the business running at optimal efficiency. This means that IT sometimes has to fight aggressively for budget and can be understaffed.
Marketing is usually considered a “profit center”. Its actions can more easily be traced and tied directly to new business. This means budget can be more easily rationalized. If you can determine a real positive ROI then it is a no-brainer to spend that money!
What do they each DO?
Before I get tarred and feathered, let me say that these are caricatures of each. What IT does and what Marketing does vary a ton between companies.
IT is tasked with aspects like:
- Computer setup and maintenance
- Office network and WiFi
- Phone systems
- Corporate software and Intranets
- The Website
Marketing is tasked with aspects like:
- Customer acquisition
- Promotional materials / Ad campaigns
- Branding and design
- Tradeshows and conferences
- The Website
Notice the common bullet point? This is where the friction can really heat up…
New Technology Stirs the Pot
The introduction of new technology (especially website-related) can threaten the fiefdom, control, and budget of IT. This can explain (not excuse) why new technology endeavors are met with suspicion or outright hostility.
One of IT’s greatest fears is Marketing “going rogue”. Non-technical people may break a system and IT is expected to step in and fix. Sometimes access is jealously guarded. Once given, it is hard to take back…
Marketing is increasing technologically-based. This means they are often the ones pushing for new endeavors.
Conversely (and ironically), sometimes IT introduces new technology and Marketing is leery and fights adoption.