IT and marketing making digital transformation work

Working in IT might feel like someone always wants a piece of you: from the mundane requests to put email on a new smartphone, to more labour-intensive implementations of new software or enterprise networks. But in the wake of the sprint towards digital transformation, the pressure and opportunity for frustration and confusion is at an all-time high.

While every department and function relies on a growing armoury of gadgets and software to tackle the digital challenge, marketers are most likely at the head of the queue with time-sensitive demands for that new data-driven, agile tool that will engage customers in a meaningful way, resulting in greater conversion rates, increased loyalty and higher revenue.

With IT under constant strain to deliver on multiple projects and marketers under increasing pressure to personalise customer experience across all digital touch points, the need for a new type of collaboration between IT and marketing is needed – one that conversely doesn’t put an over-emphasis on technology.

Digital doesn’t mean more technology

With the market and customers more fickle than ever, organisations live with the very real threat that there’s always a newer, cooler and more agile business ready to take their customers.

To combat this risk the temptation is to throw money at new technology as a shortcut to digitalisation, but that’s not the answer. Likewise, making analogue processes digital won’t work either.

Too often technology is pushed ahead of the business when it should be something that follows.

>See also: Three ways CIOs can work with CMOs to transform digital marketing

It’s no surprise though, particularly for marketers who perhaps face the greatest challenge in a commercial environment that is increasingly evidence and data-driven.

Businesses demand the delivery of highly personalised marketing campaigns based on accurate yet dynamic customer personas.

While technology clearly has a part to play in this reality, it’s important to consider which tools meet the marketer’s specific needs, particularly when marketers face a smorgasbord of ever new tools and solutions promising to deliver the customer engagement holy grail.

For digital transformation to be successful it needs to be personal and bespoke to each organisation.

This requires a more considered approach. As such, there is an onus on IT and marketers to work together in tandem to fully understand the digital destination and how to get there.

Joined up thinking of marketing and IT together fosters a holistic, strategic approach rather than a tactical technology one to meet the needs of customers and help keep the company in business for the longer term.

It also comes with the added bonus of keeping everyone focused on the same end goal, eliminating the time consuming distractions of nice-to-have or partially relevant technology, and instead implementing only the solutions that will make the most difference as part of the digital transformation journey.

Sayonara to silos

To facilitate a truly collaborative approach of this nature it means actively breaking down departmental silos.

It might be the CMO driving a digital transformation project but if IT, and sales for that matter, aren’t along for the ride, marketing isn’t going anywhere either.

Developing an understanding of what the project entails and getting all parties pulling in one direction is perhaps the biggest challenge any business faces.

>See also: B2B marketing in 2016: what lies ahead

Most organisations are set up in such a way that departments are separate. This lack of transparency into what each team is working on makes it difficult to implement any kind of successful project.

Each team shares a responsibility to help everyone else understand their own aims and benefits for the project, and get their buy-in.

IT and marketing have unique concerns that must be addressed and managed effectively to drive business transformation forward.

As long as we look at ourselves as separate from other teams instead of as one function in the wider business, the project wheels are likely to slow down if not come off all together.

Don’t ask someone to do something you can’t

It’s not just a case of increased communication and understanding between departments that’s needed, but ideally the sharing of skills.

Organisations should be actively looking to recruit talent who possess skills in both IT and marketing, meaning that not only can they understand the different needs, but they can also act upon both.

>See also: 5 marketing trends to prepare for in 2016

As well as making this a consideration for future recruitment processes, organisations can also look to identify existing talent that has the potential to be upskilled.

You should also look to introduce the technology that is not confined to the hands of a few experts, but able to understood – at the very least on a basic level – by those who are impacted by it.

It’s a bit of everything

Collaboration across teams and business functions really is the key to success.

When it comes to digital transformation, the biggest risk isn’t choosing the wrong software.

When you look at digital transformation you do not just look to change a program or a single process, you need to see it as everything you do – from the way in which you communicate, to the way in which you train and recruit your talent.

Underpinning all of this is internal alignment; get this right and you are well on your way.


Sourced by Mark Armstrong, VP and managing director EMEA of Progress

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...