Does this scenario sound familiar? Your team creates a short video to capitalize on a trend that could bring a lot of attention to your brand. Your social media person wants it live now — no, five minutes ago — but the IT guy is concerned that a crazy spike in traffic could crash the company website.
You think IT is just being difficult, but really, the IT people are trying to keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes.
Needless to say, there is no viral video in IT Land. Yet, despite their inherent differences, IT and marketing need each other. In the past 10 years, marketing and automation tools have helped marketing teams gather customer data they have never had before and communicate with customers on a global scale. But with these new opportunities comes a new set of problems: a lack of oversight, disorganized databases, and software compatibility conflicts.
Meanwhile, the IT sector has changed, too. With the proliferation of cloud architecture, IT professionals no longer have banks of servers to contend with on a daily basis. Their job now consists of monitoring various software and data banks for errors or inconsistencies and helping with end-user issues.
In many companies, the IT division is stepping in to help marketers organize their data and oversee other technical aspects so they can get back to doing what they do best. When it works, it is an excellent solution, but putting two very different departments together can also create a lot of tension.
How Department Goals Lead to Culture Clash
The main reason a simple viral video can create so much conflict between IT and marketing is that most IT professionals have a different temperament and different goals than marketers when it comes to running their division.
While marketing is out front trying to create compelling content to engage the audience and bring in new customers, the IT crowd is primarily focused on the back end and keeping data secure and stable.
Furthermore, IT may not be as focused on ROI since its primary role has historically been maintenance, not drumming up new business for the company. This can lead to conflict with fast-paced, performance-driven marketers who want to implement new campaigns quickly and efficiently.
However, these differences do not have to be barriers to collaboration. With clear-cut responsibilities and shared goals, marketing and IT can combine their different sensibilities to create a powerful new dynamic.
How IT and Marketing Can Work Together
Getting two disparate teams working in sync is a careful balancing act. Marketing and IT need to have shared values from the start, but they also need clear divisions of labor so everyone understands his or her role.
IT can be a major asset to marketing with data collection and organization. (Admittedly, managing databases is sometimes not marketers’ strong suit.) IT can be a huge help here since its team is usually more skilled at analyzing metrics and surfacing the right data for the right situation.
With IT handling the back end, marketers can get a better picture of how people are interacting with their campaigns and use those insights to optimize future efforts. But for IT to organize data correctly, it needs guidance on the type of information marketing will find helpful.
Hire for Skills and Values Crossover
Just because marketing and IT can collaborate does not mean marketers should not learn core technical skills, though. Even if your team members will not use every skill every day, having the perspective of both sides of marketing can help them communicate with IT better and create more efficient workflows.
Likewise, IT hires should be a good fit both from a values and skills perspective. Your company should also consider creating a position that specifically monitors marketing activity and the use of data for strategy. This person can bridge the gap between the two departments and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Interactions between IT and marketing don’t have to end in a showdown over an Ice Bucket Challenge video. By collaborating on the technical aspects of marketing, communicating about shared goals, and hiring for skills and values, IT can be an enormous asset to your department. Together, your teams can become a data-driven powerhouse that takes your company to a whole new level.