A Marketer In IT's Court - InformationWeek

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5/26/2015
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Romi Mahajan
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A Marketer In IT's Court

IT and marketing share key similarities. They should learn from each other and make common cause to raise their organizational profiles.

Many people who know me well joke about the fact I write about IT. After all, I am a marketer, not a technical person. Sure, I've worked in and with technology companies for most of my career, but how does that qualify me to write with any gravity on the matters of IT?

Because IT and Marketing have a lot in common, and the extrapolation from one to the other is hardly outlandish. In fact, the similarities are profound:

  1. IT and Marketing are fundamentally customer-driven organizations
  2. IT and Marketing are asked to justify spend in terms of ROI
  3. IT and Marketing have to work hard to earn respect internally

Given the similarities, it is unfortunate how rarely IT and Marketing compare notes, learn from each other, and make common cause. Thus, the reason that a marketer writes about IT!

So let's spend some time interrogating these similarities.

With regard to customer-centricity, IT and Marketing are in my view very much in the same boat. IT works to enable customers (internal and external) and does so under fairly strict SLAs. In this regard, IT is very much accountable to the needs and nuances of customers.

Similarly, Marketing engages and represents the customer under conditions of ultimate accountability; that is, if Marketing cannot connect to the customer, the business will cease to exist.

Extending the argument, Marketing today is largely driven by IT, and IT's often self-imposed siloing of itself is a direct result of its lack of desire, or inability, to 'market" itself. The potential synergies are enormous and there are abundant opportunities to make common cause.

Both IT and Marketing must justify costs. While that might be true in every part of the business, it is acute in these two parts of the organization. The ROI calculus creates the perception that both departments are at best cost-centers and are drags on the organization.

Yet in the modern enterprise, there is no business without IT, and Marketing has become synonymous with revenue, so the aspersions are misplaced. Once again, this is an area for Marketers and IT to join and tell their collective stories better.

This leads to earning respect. Both IT and Marketing garner little respect in the internal imagination of the company, primarily because of the skepticism around value and investment in these areas. While in reality innovation abounds in both, rarely do people suggest that it does.

Once again, IT and Marketing need to compare notes more often and work hard to reject negative perceptions and create positive ones.

So, yes, IT and Marketing are closely connected and require more cross-pollination. IT folks need to connect with their Marketing pers and vice-versa. Let's start this dialogue on these pages and take the conversation forward.

Romi Mahajan is the founder of KKM Group, a boutique marketing and strategy advisory firm. He is also an Interop track chair for the "Business of IT" track. He spent nine years at Microsoft and was the first CMO of Ascentium, an award-winning digital agency. Romi has also ... View Full Bio

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