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IT, get your hands off my marketing stack!

Unlock the potential of your marketing department by gaining control of your marketing stack.
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I just want to preface this by saying: I have been *authorized to have this opinion because I’m a programmer who has worked within many IT organizations.  

Recently, we did a project in which the marketing department had set out to do a full-scale redesign of their website and digital presence.  They had already spent months engaged with a branding consultant, and then they brought us in to complete a new website.  After spending more months completing the project using the approved tech stack, The IT department decided that, in their opinion, it wasn’t an acceptable technology and rewrote the entire website using a development framework rather than the most widely-used web CMS, prohibiting marketing from being able to make updates on the website easily.  Now, unlike many of the sites we’ve developed since, it stands frozen in time with very few changes other than a handful of blog posts.

If this sounds familiar to you, then I sympathize with your struggles.  As a person who has fought on both sides of the Marketing vs. IT war, I fully understand the intentions and accountability of the IT department when it comes to keeping control over the systems being used by employees.  However, it has been my experience that marketing-led organizations do not get stifled by IT-enabled restrictions.  

In cases when IT supports rather than dictates, everyone ends up much happier.   Marketing has the ability to leverage non-IT staff for support with the platforms.  Directly leveraging consultants who, in many cases, have more experience with the software than the IT department.  This means IT has fewer tickets, complaints, and responsibilities.  Obviously, for the marketing department choosing the tools you wish to use does 2 things:  1) You’re buying into the platform as a real solution to help you do your job  2) It’s harder to blame the platform you chose as the reason why things aren’t working.  While I have never heard a marketer complain about the software they are being forced to use, I’m sure there’s at least one case of this.  (insert sarcasm emoji)

So, how do we tell IT to take a hike?

It’s not going to be easy.  I hope your CMO and CTO are on speaking terms.  And I hope your CFO and CTO are not.  The only successful marketing teams I’ve seen be able to penetrate the great wall of IT have had first to prove their abilities and move the organization into a more marketing-focused strategy.  This means overcoming the typical sales-led culture many organizations have and getting the entire organization to see the value in the efforts of the marketing department.

This can be a long road, but it starts with defining the objectives you wish to achieve as a marketing leader and asking for certain favors when you meet them.  After consistently proving your own success, it is harder for leadership to say no to your requests.  It probably begins with more resources, then more budget, and finally, more control.  My only advice is to leverage metrics that you know you can advance and not metrics that are out of your control.

* Authorization should be noted as “self-authorization” and can not be enforced or rejected by any governing body, including IT.

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