Prediction: IT and Marketing will follow the same path as IT and Sales

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I thought this article, “IT And Marketing: How Digital Media’s Changing The Relationship” was a good write-up in last week’s Information Week, even though I fundamentally disagree with the conclusions. The article is about how critical technology is to the future of Marketing and how that may help IT and Marketing bridge their longstanding gap.

I can’t help but think about where we were with IT and Sales a while back. Sales and IT historically didn’t get along (I know I’m making some really big generalizations here, but broadly across companies it was true) and Sales for the first time was really exploring technology that could support their efforts. Along came several CRM solutions, most notably SalesForce.com, who played the game perfectly by selling directly to Sales executives and cutting IT out of the mix. I swear they were drilled in sales school to say things like: “You don’t need them (IT)”, “They don’t understand this space”, “Don’t worry, there’s no need to integrate/ we can do all the integration” … and of course they had all those incredible demos to share that made any sales execs mouth drool. And it worked! We saw tons of companies with otherwise relatively “successful” IT organizations completely lose the connection with their Sales group. Now over time that has changed as these CRM systems have had to be integrated and as IT organizations have generally gotten up to speed with the criticality of these systems.

So I have a theory. It’ll be a couple years before IT is really leading the charge on technology to drive marketing forward. Arguably, it may get worse before it gets better. Unless IT organizations can get out ahead of this, Marketing groups will be wooed by technology vendors who will convince them their IT organization doesn’t know enough to help them and will likely slow them down (arguably both true). Over time, IT organizations will realize what’s up and get out ahead or at least catch up. So maybe ultimately these technology shifts will change the dynamic, but it is going to take some time.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way… IT organizations could easily spend some time getting up to speed on the technology options out there and really help their Marketing groups do something strategic.

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