As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in your own world when preparing cross-channel messaging campaigns. After all, you’re writing the copy. You’re probably gathering the analytics. You’re crunching the data, building audiences, crafting the perfect subject line, determining the right day and time to send. It’s your baby you’re putting out into the world, hoping that click-throughs and accolades will rain down upon you. Nothing against your I.T. team, but what do they have to do with it anyway?
The answer is “Everything.”
Putting up walls
When we asked marketers to tell us about their relationship with their I.T. organization, the results weren’t surprising:
Only 64% of the respondents described their relationship with I.T. as at least “above average.” The remaining 36% described it as either “below average” or “poor.” This typically stems from the teams having different goals and processes: I.T. is tasked with keeping internal data secure, for example. But marketers just want to be able to utilize that data quickly and easily. Marketers tend to leave the “how” up to I.T. without understanding the complexities and risks involved. So for vendor selection, marketers shouldn’t evaluate in isolation because I.T. will have to be involved at some point anyway.
Unfortunately, we all probably see this quite a bit. There are lots of reasons there’s often a significant gulf between Marketing and I.T., and that friction can be a major problem for teams that want to be nimble and move quickly to smartly utilize their data for highly personalized messaging campaigns. Because Marketing just going it alone isn’t an option.
I.T. has to be involved — no matter what
No matter which vendors you choose and what type of technology you work with, I.T. is going to be (and has to be) involved. You’ll need them for the initial integration, for any maintenance or new data that needs to be exposed, troubleshooting, setting up automations, etc. In some cases, depending on the solutions being utilized, especially for triggered messages, I.T. owns the templates and sending mechanisms themselves. They also need to be aware of traffic and capacity.
Remember that I.T. is generally the “gatekeeper” of data, trying to limit threats and keep an eye on data security. The more vendors that need data sent to them and kept in sync, the more frustrated I.T. can become. They’re trying to manage dozens or more solutions and keep all of that data in sync and fresh. When you create additional silos, you’re putting I.T. at odds with the Marketing team, especially because I.T. doesn’t have any control over the solutions.
Marketers also want to experiment and test different scenarios, particularly in email marketing, and a lot of this is either done on the fly or with very short notice because a wide variety of testing tools are readily available. This constant flow of data needs creates internal friction between the teams when marketing groups repeatedly rush to their tech teams for assistance or access.
Aligning the teams
So how can we work to create some peace and harmony between the teams? Setting up time to talk to them is a good place to start. If you need to have a bi-weekly or monthly status check to ensure everyone’s on the same page, get that on the calendar. Too many times, Marketing and I.T. teams stay in their own corner of the office and almost never interact. So open up those lines of communication. One way to make that easier is to add a product marketing expert to your team, so you have someone who speaks both languages and can bridge any communication gaps that may exist.
Have your teams work together to understand each other’s goals and needs, and to set expectations. You can set up some common rules and procedures for getting things accomplished. And it’ll be important to stick to them. Making them aware of your plans for the upcoming year reduces surprises and can help I.T. anticipate needs. They might even find ways to make things easier. Ask for their help in giving you a complete view of the customer.
Involving I.T. in vendor selection
Another way to ease the friction is to involve I.T. in the vendor selection process, especially when the solution needs access to customer data (like with personalized cross-channel messaging). In many cases, Marketing selects a vendor and informs I.T. after the fact. However, a better course of action is to involve them from the onset of the selection process. Two teams are better than one. I.T can think through through the integration prior to implementation and bring up valid points for maintenance and scalability that you may not have considered. Solicit their input and advice, and they’ll appreciate you for it.
And you want them to appreciate you, because let’s face it, you’re not going to be successful without their cooperation.