Beware of IT Bearing Gifts for Marketing
by Scott Olson, on Nov, 11, 2015
Disclaimer: The following is not an attack on IT departments.
It's not like IT sets out to offer a Trojan horse to their organization, and the goals of IT are not purposefully designed to oppose those of others within the organization. There are often rifts between departments that can be closed with an improved understanding of the needs of end users, and this often will be sales and marketing.
Today, many IT departments aim to implement a select number of solutions to solve the largest quantity of problems. To kill two or more birds with one stone. Responsibilities include maintaining control over technology and information, answering expectations regarding risk and cost and implementing proven solutions.
The hang-up occurs when objectives are geared to decision-makers rather than users and may look good on paper, but fail to encourage wide-spread adoption because the needs of departments still fall through the cracks. This is typical of a heavy-handed, top-down approach. The compromised, few-solution philosophy may be manageable and fiscally affordable, but not afford users a solution for their real needs.
When leading organizations focus on meeting the requirements of end users before purchase, adoption of IT solutions becomes a highly anticipated and rewarding benefit that enables better communications and improved productivity throughout the company.
Customer-focused versus Operations-focused
What type of organization are you? While many companies want to see themselves as focusing on the customer, in reality their main priority is operations. They create and implement policies and rules that offer little leeway and actually can impede the organization from delivering better customer service and a higher satisfaction rate.
The Customer-focused company believes that employees can make decisions that benefit the whole and offers them tools, strategies and freedom to make the magic happen. The alternative is an Operations-focused company that requires supervision and approval for anything outside of the standard approach, with little empowerment for employees to offer their perspective or creativity to come up with a solution. Companies do themselves a disservice by not making the most of the talents from within and not considering the value of the front lines that deal with their actual customers every day.
Sales and marketing need tools that can effectively meet their evolving challenges. An operations-focused company may talk the talk but not walk the walk. Employees are an asset, use their insights. Direct interaction with customers is invaluable for product development and research. Dennis Drogseth, VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) says:
“If I had one single piece of advice, it would be to ‘abhor the generic.’ Don’t look for a standard guidebook to tell you how to optimize to the business or organization you support. Leverage best-practice advice and the experience of others by all means, but take time to understand the human, business and technology dimension specific to your business model, your organization, and the key stakeholders on both sides of the fence.”
Fostering a culture of open communication with employees allows for perspectives and unconsidered methods that might be more cost-effective and efficient in the long-run. Enlightened organizations listen to the people within their organization and choose solutions that can meet their business model and help their employees serve customers better.
Considerations for IT tools (Before Going All-In)
Choose a solution or solutions that all of your departments can get behind. Using software that partially addresses some needs may make it necessary to add in patchwork solutions that can prove problematic down the road. Like pharmaceuticals that are used for off-label purposes, some software suites are used for functions other than what was originally intended with unexpected results.
A business that attempts to solve a particular need not addressed with their implemented software should avoid incorporating an add-on feature that may appeal in price, but lack in functionality. A superior, purpose-built software platform is tailored to address the full spectrum of requirements for departments. It makes end users and IT happy by way of better functionality, fewer issues and higher adoption rates.
IT, marketing, and sales need to work hand-in-hand. First and foremost, does IT understand your business, audience, and marketing goals? Technical skills are not the only requirement necessary for creating a message that your audience responds to, and IT already has a lot on its plate. With a platform that makes it easy for (non-developer) users to get in and add content, sales and marketing teams can play a larger role in driving branding, messaging and customer engagement.
A great deal of work goes into converting a lead into a customer. Unintended consequences ensue from poorly orchestrated communications and a lack of consistency across departments. When messaging is diluted across channels, the brand image can be damaged. With growing consumer expectations, IT, sales and marketing need to communicate and share in the responsibility for optimizing the prospect’s experience.
What can be done to improve cross-department communications within your organization and ensure that IT gifts benefit the people using them?
Speak the Same Language
What can the enlightened organization do to promote a unified vision and consolidated approach with tools that meet organizational goals and are tailored to user needs? In the CA Technologies study surveying 800 global business and IT executives, “Why IT Needs to Lead Now: The Innovation Imperative,” the apparent lack of communication creates missed opportunities for organizations to drive revenue, improve customer satisfaction and increase speed to market.
34% of business respondents described their relationship with IT as combative, siloed or distrustful with 31% of IT individuals in agreement. Your organization can make the most of in-house resources with better soft skills to drive the hard data-driven decisions.
One of the most important things organizations need to do beyond creating open dialogue, is to find a common language and decide on shared objectives. Dialogue with sales and marketing should be used to outline and detail the real needs of their area of the organization, interfacing directly with customers and aligning them with business objectives.
IT can only work with the information that is conveyed. An IT failure is not their burden to shoulder alone. Most issues can boil down to poor preliminary discussions, a misunderstanding of department roles and shared responsibilities and a top-down dictating approach that fails to recognize concerns and departmental needs by putting preference on saving money in the short-term.
With so much buzz for tech-driven solutions, it becomes far too easy to forget that people are not mind-readers. Open communication between key decision-makers, IT, sales and marketing will promote the understanding of the range of needs within an organization and how meeting internal needs benefits overall business objectives. What is your organization doing to cross the chasm with IT and deliver solutions that are real tools for end users? Share your discoveries below or tweet us @modusengagement.