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6 Steps to Avoiding Couples Therapy for Marketing and IT Departments

Brace yourself; science has declared that opposites do not attract. Apparently, people like to be around others who mirror their preferences, attitudes and personality traits. No wonder there’s been a longstanding eye-rolling contest between the extroverted creative-types in marketing and their brainy introverted coworkers in IT. Ridiculous stereotypes aside, it appears that if you want to unite your marketing and IT departments and make magic happen, you’ll need to find some common ground. The good news is there are steps you can take today to help your marketing and IT departments join forces and they don’t require trust falls, group birthday singalongs or couples therapy.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Scott Brinker, the author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, maintains that the most pressing issue between IT and marketing is one of priorities. IT is typically focused on tasks such as maintaining security, enforcing standardization, performing data management, managing infrastructure and staying within budget. Meanwhile, their coworkers in marketing are consumed with speed-to-market, market differentiation, agility, user experience and “embracing disruptive innovation.” Although these agendas are quite different, each is essential to the overall goal of helping the company remain competitive.

captain obvious skipping hed 2016 - sureshot

It may seem a bit “Captain Obvious”, but equipping themembers of your various departments with a fresh perspective of each other’s priorities will go a long way in building understanding between the two teams, which brings us to our next step.

Step 2: Talk it Out

Now that you are aware of each other’s priorities, you can make a point of addressing them as you work together. According to the 2018 Marketing Technology Landscape, marketers now have close to 7,000 different solutions to choose from when building their martech stack. Not surprisingly, research has revealed that CMOs now spend more than CIOs on technology. Many of the tech tools peppering the landscape are designed to ease the burden on IT by empowering those less technical (marketers) to play a larger role in their own success. Marketers can now easily manage all data hygiene for marketing, including handling issues for enterprise platforms, such as performing data management for Eloqua, data enrichment for Marketo, and much more. However, this does not mean marketers should go rogue and purchase technology without any input from IT. Whenever technology has access to customer data, you want to make sure IT is kosher with it because there could be legal ramifications if there is a breach. In short, you want IT to be on your side, not blindsided.

Step 3: Take a Vote

To reduce the friction and anxiety generated between marketing and IT leaders over new tech purchases, Sureshot recommends using a priority scorecard that enables both sides to rank the needs a piece of tech meets pre-purchase. Of course, your company will need to establish what is acceptable and unacceptable for each ranking, but ideally you’ll want to cover the basics, which we tabled for you below:

IT and Marketing Technology Scorecard
Suggested Scale: 1 = Very Poor; 2 = Poor; 3 = Okay; 4 = Good; 5 = Great

Security Customer Experience
Infrastructure Integration
Data Integrity Actionable Data
Standardization Scalability
Cost Ease of Operation
IT Priorities Total Marketing Priorities Total

Step 4: Test Drive Tech Together

We all know open ongoing communication is the key to any relationship’s success, so if you’re keen to tear down IT and Marketing siloes, try recruiting a variety of players from each team to test-drive new technologies that are up for adoption. Yes, people in both departments are busy, but if you rotate the team members providing input for each technology being considered, everyone can participate without feeling overworked. Plus, both sides will have first-hand experience in seeing how critical it is for IT and marketing to listen and learn from each other’s perspectives.

Step 5: Consider a Mediator

Depending on the size and budget of your company, you may benefit from the fulltime insights of someone who is skilled at uniting both departments — a marketing technologist (MT). Although this role is fairly new on the job scene (around five years), MTs are in high demand as they are adept at streamlining the relationship between marketing and IT and ensuring marketing strategies are in alignment with both IT and company goals. Brinker maintains that MTs, “help nontechnical marketers craft better campaigns, programs, and customer experiences that effectively leverage software and data. They’re hybrids, who speak both marketing and IT…and in a world of greater intersections between disciplines and functions—and the need to break out of legacy organizational silos—such roles really facilitate change.”

Step 6: Choose Martech That Delivers on Both Marketing and IT Priorities

Perhaps one of the most effective tools in bringing marketing and IT together is found in technology itself. Many tools, systems and apps created for the modern martech stack can be integrated seamlessly with leading CRMs and marketing automation platforms (Oracle, Marketo, etc.).  These user-friendly tools are often bolstered by cloud-based security options and have an array of user-friendly features that enable marketers to take on more responsibility for the tech they use without burdening IT to perform ongoing support. One example of this type of technology is found in cloud-based API integration platforms. Designed to be used by non-technical and technical users alike, API integration platforms empower marketers to build their own integrations and manage them from a central location.

Another example of a universal tool that benefits both departments is a data dashboard. A dashboard takes data from sources across an enterprise and transforms it into actionable insights that can be shared with decision-makers in both departments. Naturally, with nearly 7,000 martech options out there, not all will be as secure as IT likes or as customer-friendly as marketers like, but as long as you make an effort to respect each other’s priorities, you’re sure to enjoy a long and happy cross-departmental relationship — no therapy needed.