If I had a dollar for every time I hear a business or IT employee tell me how rubbish their counterpart is as a partner, I would almost certainly be a very wealthy entrepreneur. In large companies, one of the massive MarTech issues we spend time struggling with is the large gap that exists between business areas and their IT counterparts. In MarTech, this is the Grand Canyon of gaps, with seemingly few ways to bridge it successfully. I will point out I have worked with areas of IT with very enlightened leadership and have worked with some awful business partners as well. There is no one side that does it better. However, having lived on both sides of the fence, I have a few observations on the challenge.
1. We simply don’t have the right staff in place
It is bad enough when we don’t staff these teams with web familiar employees (yes that does still happen) but even that isn’t adequate. Knowing the web is not enough to be able to become a successful partner for business MarTech areas. What you need are IT personnel who have worked with MarTech before in some capacity and understand why it is different than running a website. The components that can be added to creating experiences and results for customers and business are very different than what traditional web specialists have seen in the past. If you cannot find these people inside your company, find them from the outside or get current employees into training. Context is everything when it comes to MarTech implementation.
2. We don’t have the right processes in place
Anyone who has been on the receiving end of ‘Please go to the website(or god forbid, paper form) and fill out the request/exception/scheduling form’ knows what I am talking about. There was a good reason why we created forms and process for IT when engaging the business. IT has been burned way too many times by businesses changing their minds, claiming they didn’t ask for things, resource allocation etc… Unfortunately we have rarely created processes and forms that are specific to business needs in the MarTech world. Some clear changes that need to be made:
+ MarTech evaluation cannot take the same time as an ERP system evaluation
+ Platform on-boarding, especially in SaaS based platforms, should not take as long as bringing in a new HR system
+ Changes to code should not take as long as traditional coding considering the difference in risks and complexity
+ Requests and prioritization need to be handled through a different queue with different SLAs
3. We don’t have the right mindset
Almost always we mentally start these conversations with “They don’t understand how complex what we need to do is”. Many business people are exhausted of hearing the 100 different reasons why they cannot do something. There are too many people talking about ” why we cannot do …” rather than ” here is how we could … “. What we need is more positivity about what the issues are AND how they can be tackled and less time spent on “no, we cannot do that”. More IT staff need the ability to walk in the shoes of the business partner and understand what they need, figure out solutions and move forward. Ironically this is one of the key strengths of IT. No matter what part of IT you work in, there are constantly challenges in tasks you need to have done. Incompatible systems, patches that messed up systems, code that worked in staging but doesn’t in prod, hardware breakdowns. Every day there is something new. We take those problems head on, understand the cause and then solve for them. However, in MarTech, for some reason our first reaction is to talk about how we can’t do something. This needs to change.
So this is all IT’s fault, right? The business does everything so perfectly, right? Wrong!
1. We don’t have the ability to articulate a coherent MarTech strategy
It is not enough to just tell people to do, and have them do. You need to be able to explain why you are doing it, what you look to get out of it, how it benefits the organization and what the other party stands to gain. We spend way too much of our time coming up with ideas that we heard about at a conference, saw from a vendor or listened to from a peer. Rarely do we put together a coherent MarTech strategy and articulate it to our business partners. We also need to consider a strategy that runs within the context of our company technology environment.
2. We are not accountable
I cannot count the number of times I have heard that the marketing/digital parts of the organization do whatever they want with no accountability whatsoever. Areas like IT and Sales have numbers and figures that they are held accountable for but Marketing gets a free ride. They do campaigns, buy technology, create projects or products and then are not held accountable for the results. Whether always true or not , this perception that marketing is just fonts and colors and not driving business goals is a massive challenge for us. We need to create deliverable’s with KPIs and ROI dollar values, measure our results and hold ourselves accountable to being able to deliver on them. Showing the partners that we are being measured like they are is a big part in the journey. Share those results. Show where you have succeeded and where you haven’t and what you are doing to optimize and adjust.
3. ‘We are not techies’
“I am not one of those techie people” is something I have heard too many times from the business side. If a marketer is still saying this in 2015 they need to re-look at their skill set. No one expects a marketing manager to be a programmer. However, in today’s digital marketing environment, you should have a basic understanding of what MarTech does for you, even if you have separate Marketing Technologist professionals (internal or agency) helping you execute. If you don’t have the knowledge, make it a goal in your development plan. The idea that the ‘tech heads’ are only in IT, and that there is no need to familiarize yourself with customer facing technology is ludicrous. I don’t care what part of the business organization you belong to, this knowledge is something you need to have a basic understanding of. Stop using ” I am part of the business” to justify your technology deficiency. Employees who are technology hybrids, understanding both worlds, will be the more valued talent in companies.
I once said that the biggest challenge that both IT and the business faced was that they both had to “extract themselves from the tar pit of the status quo”. Tar pits are where one got trapped, became unable to move forward, and eventually died, sometimes becoming fossils.
Lesson: DO NOT BECOME A FOSSIL!