Breaking Down Barriers: How IT & Marketing Can Work Together #gilbaneAnyone who has ever tried to implement a new software application knows that unless you can get past the IT department, chances of a successful deployment are slim. It isn’t that IT is a bully or that marketers are naïve, it’s more likely that these departments aren’t properly aligned. As we start Day Two of Gilbane Boston, we are attending an intervention of sorts. The session, Marketing & IT -- How to Work Together, is aimed to bring the two groups together. 

Hosted by Chris Summers, founder of UrbanCherry and Dan Strauss, chief product officer at EndPlay, the session’s first step was to clearly state what IT and Marketing need to learn from each other. Here’s what we learned:

What does Marketing need to learn from IT?

  • Be educated about what your company needs to have to implement software. Know the appropriate system requirements.
  • Understand what IT is dealing with -- what are the specific constraints and challenges that they face? Learn about their deployment schedules, update cycles so that you can better plan to avoid obstacles and bottlenecks.
  • Understand the IT perspective about scalability, complex systems; see the bigger picture of what it takes to secure software and hardware.

What does IT need to learn from Marketing?

  • Undersand that marketers aren't trying to be difficult; in fact, most of what they want to implement is trying to simplify the customer experience.
  • Know that marketing needs IT solutions that are easy to use, easy to leverage, not just for IT, but for the whole company.
  • Help open up limitations so that marketers can effectively embrace multi-channel platforms and experiences .

Sounds easy enough, but how exactly do you do it?

Introduce Yourself

Let the other know who you are and what your goals are as a department and for your customers/users. Learn each other’s language. This doesn’t mean you have to speak geek or embrace a right-brain creativity model. However, It does mean knowing what it means to be secure, user-friendly, integrated and empowered.

Rethink the RFP

It’s standard process to spell out a lot of conditions in your requests for proposal when seeking a new CMS or other software application. It’s rare that any vendors that respond will say that they can’t do any of the requirements defined. But, as we know, not every vendor is equally capable or versatile enough to fulfill every CMS request. Who are the people sitting around the table reviewing proposals? It should be a healthy mix of IT and Marketers. Even if IT weren't involved in creating the original process, it needs to understand the capabilities and claims of each vendor that is being considered so that the right application can be implemented appropriately. 

Be Careful What You Change

What might seem like a fairly easy reconfiguration may in fact be the straw that breaks your infrastructure’s back. Don’t assume anything -- be mindful that your changes don’t just affect you --they could affect the bigger picture or they may affect the end-user experience.

Be Strategic About User Access

Not everyone needs access to everything. It’s not that access and information needs to be siloed -- in fact, they work better when it’s not. However, it's essential to understand the needs of your internal users. If IT is the only one to have access to system controls, it makes marketing considerably dependent on them to make changes and updates. And that can cause frustration. Instead, identify the right people from both departments to have access to the right modules so you can begin to build collaborative support teams.

Don’t Just Make Demands, Show Your Vision

IT often sees marketers as bratty trendsetters. They only want the newest, latest, greatest technologies. They don’t often understand the vision behind the wants and needs. Take the time to outline, sketch or otherwise describe how you envision the system working. Share this with IT so that they can better understand what you’re working towards, while helping to make sure the current infrastructure and solution architecture can be supported.

Of course, these directives won’t happen overnight. And they definitely won’t happen if the company culture doesn’t support open collaboration, or celebrate innovation that comes as a result of working together. Everyone worries about job security, but it shouldn’t result in hoarding information. As Chris Summers says, “when you’re a part of making the coolest thing in the company, you’ll be celebrated,” which should lend itself to better job security (and satisfaction) than ever before.