Working With IT: Do's and Don'ts for Digital Marketers

  |  August 23, 2012   |  Comments   |  

As digital ecosystems become increasingly complex, the need for marketing and IT collaboration is critical. Consider these tips to get IT on your side.

Before tackling the issue at hand, let's first backtrack a bit on the rocky relationship between marketing and IT departments. In the early dot-com days, an organization's digital assets were largely under IT's control. Marketing had to follow IT's rigid processes for updates.

The rise of digital shifted the various digital assets into marketing and agencies' hands, where things could happen a lot faster and largely independent of IT.

However, today's increasingly complex digital ecosystem calls for more and more technical initiatives such as: social CRM, digital analytics, and marketing intelligence data-warehouses. These initiatives have multiple touch points that are spread across both IT and marketing, hence the need for cooperation among marketers and IT.

Because IT has very different goals and operating models than marketing, this could cause frustration for marketers. As someone that moved from IT into marketing, let me share some do's and don'ts for fellow marketers when working with the IT department.

Do 1. Do understand IT's organizational objectives. Newsflash! IT really doesn't care about your marketing strategy. What keeps them up all night are things like system uptime, security, and data integrity. CIOs are usually measured by KPIs like: percentage of SLAs (service-level agreements) met, number of operational incidents, and number of security incidents. It's important to note that all these KPIs are conservative measures to manage change.

So while you're excited to put that new tool/dashboard in the company environment, IT is dreading how this change will impact their own department's success metrics.

2. Do involve IT right from the get go. Often, IT are brought in at the very last minute on marketing projects, usually right before deployment. This results in a whole array of issues that would ultimately delay or severely disrupt the go live process. The best thing to do is to have an IT member as a part of the core project team or steering committee. This ensures that IT is well informed and could prepare for any new software deployments.

3. Do conduct proper analysis and documentation. When working with IT, especially on complex projects that involve data integration or workflow management, it is of prime importance to conduct proper requirements analysis and documentation. Do not run these projects like your usual Facebook campaigns! Most IT departments have a set development lifecycle that enforces requirements analysis so having these documentations ready would greatly enhance the working relationship with IT.

4. Do find out and follow IT's security/compliance processes. Most marketing departments are not aware of the complexities involved in deploying a new tool/system, especially within the internal environment. Every IT department has many processes in place to minimize risk. It's important for marketing departments/agencies to understand processes and build in the proper time in the project plan to ensure compliance.

Don'ts 1. Don't treat IT like solution providers. Most internal IT teams consist of system admins, networking specialists, support, and maybe if you're lucky some business analysts and project managers. But these folks do not have any proficiency in marketing technologies. Do not expect your IT to do web analytics (many companies still put this on IT), conduct SEO on your website, or do other seemingly "technical" things.

2. Don't leave IT with maintenance and support. The number one pet peeve for IT is to maintain someone else's system/code. Yet they are left with maintenance when consultants and agencies leave after implementation. This is a huge risk for them because they are left accountable with codebase that they didn't develop. Agencies should always build in maintenance and support as part of the service contract - IT will thank you for it!

3. Don't give IT a deadline at the brief. Back in my IT consulting days, I heard my fair share of "This is our project and I need it live in two weeks!" Most marketing departments will set a project deadline before even conducting requirements or analysis. This definitely does not sit well with IT as they have many concerns that need to be built into the project schedule. The best approach is to ask for lead time needed by IT for deployment and adjust the system to go live accordingly.

4. Don't deviate too much from IT's preferred SOE. Each IT department usually has a preferred SOE (standard operating environment) for all software deployed internally. It's helpful to understand the environment and try to seek technical solutions that fall within its boundaries. This would greatly speed up the deployment process as IT doesn't have to spend too much time on auditing new technologies.

These tips are mainly for marketers to better understand the IT world. But it's just as important for CIOs to understand the CMO's challenges to increase cooperation between the two worlds,which would greatly enhance digital marketing effectiveness.

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Charlie Wang

Currently the digital partner for Mindshare, looking after the digital and search team in Beijing. Charlie is an experienced digital marketing professional with strong IT consulting background and a passion in data-driven marketing. He has more than seven years of digital marketing and consulting experience across U.S., Hong Kong, and China. His areas of expertise focus on direct response, lead generation, e-commerce, CRM, and programmatic media. An active advocate of data-driven marketing in the China market with various speaking engagements and publications on digital analytics and programmatic media. His client portfolio spans across IT, B2B, and FMCG.

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