Laust Sondergaard, chairman of Sitecore UK, asks the question whether it is IT or marketing who hold the keys to 'digital' - and how the two departments need to overcome any differences and work in tandem together.
Within your organisation who owns ‘digital’? Digital activity extends across every part of a modern organisation and away from IT, digital can mean the use of digital channels (web, mobile or social media) to engagement with customers, prospects and the wider world. From e-commerce to content management systems with integrated marketing automation, the digital waterfront is controlled by marketing.
Marketers want creative ways to deliver results with digital and have a tendency to rely on their own array of agencies and vendors to achieve this. These digital agencies offer everything – from their own infrastructure to flexible cloud-based resources. They perform a ‘hybrid’ tech marketer role, delivering strong data, scalable marketing platforms and web infrastructure.
This has led to IT being bypassed by marketing. Signing up for SaaS platforms such as Salesforce might not even warrant a call from marketing to IT. The best marketing platform implementations will always involve integration with internal back-end systems at some stage, but marketers make the choice of a quick, uninterrupted implementation of a platform controlled by an outside agency or a slow adoption through their internal IT team.
How has this relationship breakdown happened? Some marketers do not believe their IT team has the required digital skill set, while digital agencies do have the skills and proven experience for managing complex implementations for other respected brands. This relationship varies for each organisation, but IT now has a golden opportunity to step up to help marketing lead with digital.
Speaking the Same Business Objectives
The good news for IT is that digital marketing requires a wider technical skill set and although marketers want the benefits from the latest technology, it doesn’t mean they fully understand or can evaluate one technology approach compared to another. IT has a vital role to help focus on the right technology – such as security and making sure for a solution matches the enterprise’s native infrastructure.
As digital marketing is all about data testing and measurement, IT also offers marketers a gateway to actionable data. The modern marketer has had to become much closer to a traditional data analyst role and talk the language of data. Areas such as cloud are a concern for many CIOs, but cloud makes sense for marketers as it provides flexible, on-tap infrastructure that can cope with large bursts of campaign activity.
Digital marketing has been a steep learning curve for most organisations. As marketers provide the interface between the world and the organisation, they have had no choice but to be pushed to the forefront of constant change from new technologies. Their agility has paid dividends and now marketers set the technology agenda. Marketers have also understood the need to ‘fail fast’ - try a new solution, test and improve.
IT has bags of experience to share with marketers, and marketers need IT more than ever in a trusted advisor role to stop repeating expensive mistakes or failing to see the bigger IT picture. Both marketing and IT have a common aim – for many organisations, digital provides disruptive change and whoever manages it will control the future growth and success of an organisation.
Laust Sondergaard is a Director of Sitecore Corporation and Chairman of Sitecore. Laust helps develop the company and build key long term partner and customer relationships, and organisational processes for Sitecore. His experience and insights on website usability, enterprise search, knowledge management, and information access and delivery across the extended enterprise has been key for Sitecore’s success in the United Kingdom. Laust founded and grew Mondo A/S, one of Europe’s most successful interactive web development agencies in the early days, and is also the co-founder of Mondosoft, a global leader in site search and reporting solutions, serving over 2,200 customers worldwide. Laust has a Master in Business Administration from Copenhagen Business School.