Why marketing and IT have to work hand in hand
BY MICHAEL J. KRÄFTNER
Too often, marketing and IT departments do not seem to be particularly fond of each other. Despite their numerous touch points, their claims and ideas diverge widely. Things could be so much better if both parties combined their expertise in order to develop joint customer-oriented strategies together.
An almost absurd gap seems to gape wide open between marketing and IT departments nowadays. This was recently confirmed by a study titled “Digital Transformation in Germany” conducted by the consultancy firm Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC), which interviewed approximately 150 employees of German companies. About three quarters of IT managers reported that they believed their department was well set up to drive the digitisation of business processes forward and to initiate digital innovation for the enterprise. However, the marketing department perceived it rather differently – every second marketing manager rated IT’s ability to develop such processes as not good or not good at all. While 70 percent of IT managers were aiming to take on the role as an innovation driver, 70% of marketing directors doubt that their colleagues from the information technology department would be able to develop a digital business strategy or to continuously see it through.
Undoubtedly, they need to talk. One thing is clear: both worlds can no longer avoid each other. Marketing has increasingly become a discipline that has been based on information technology in recent years. Some analysts even predict that marketing decision-makers will spend more on IT than their colleagues from the actual IT department in the coming years. And with good reason. A large number of projects and services is already being implemented or purchased at the initiative of marketing and sales. After all, information technology nowadays plays an important role in basically everything that has to do with customers. Today, almost everything has to happen in real time. Customers do not wait any longer but expect a quick response. To this end, a fast location of the required information is important. Especially when it comes to customer management, nothing works without technology anymore – from CRM systems, over social analytics, lead campaigns or targeting to Customer Lifecycle Management. Technology-based sales management allows for solid sales planning, quotation and order management, and facilitates the identification of opportunities as well as sales and pipeline analysis. E-commerce revolves around central issues such as data generation, product information management, web shop organisation, contract design and pricing, or e-payment.
The amount of digital data that is obtained in all these sectors and tasks is growing rapidly. Already, 95 percent of all marketing campaigns are now being produced digitally, over 60 percent are distributed digitally. The expenditure for the administration and management of the resulting content is immense and increasing further – marketing expenses explode in these areas. In order to keep the costs as low as possible, the so-called rich content or assets rather, valuable elements, must be distributed, managed and controlled without delay. It is here that joint efforts of marketing and IT are necessary and would pay off.
Companies wishing to reduce time and costs for the handling of such digital content should look for a software solution able to distribute digital assets across the enterprise while even making them available to external service providers without too much effort. Specialised solutions for Digital Asset Management (DAM) as being offered by companies like celum, with a focus on marketing technology, promise help in this regard. The software supports employees in the smooth distribution, management and retrieval of digital content, as it links the content with the above-mentioned basic systems such as ERP, CRM, PIM or web content management, thus enabling working enterprise-wide. That way, digital content can be exchanged more quickly. The long search in countless databases becomes a thing of the past. This not only saves the staff time but decreases costs for the company in the long-term.
Those, however, that flinch at the thought of asking for yet another software integration from the IT department might as well look to acquire turnkey cloud products. External service providers like celum and its partners essentially install the DAM technology, make it ready and available to the company at the push of a button and stand by to offer further advice at any time. Nowadays, very mature cloud solutions exist and contain the most important functions in the basic version which is ready to use within a few hours. If requirements become more complex, the cloud solution can be relatively easily expanded due to its high scalability.
If over time the requirements for the system increase to the extent that an individual in-house solution would be more appropriate, the transformation is possible at any time. Hosting and maintenance are the service provider’s responsibility and are usually included in the price. The latter is calculated as a monthly rate per user. The costs thus remain manageable at all times.
Whether in-house or cloud, the use of a DAM solution clearly pays off. Studies have shown that the time used to search for data and files can be lowered by 75 percent. Employee productivity is increased by 83% with the introduction of such a solution because exchange of files of any type (eg. videos, animations and documents from various programs such as product information, e-commerce, InDesign, social media etc.) is simplified and thus accelerated enormously. This way, not only costs to the company are reduced, but also greater flexibility in everyday business is gained. It is important to not restrict these solutions to use in a single department but to make them accessible for multiple users at the same time.
Naturally, these various changes in both marketing and IT as well as in the entire company present quite a few challenges: it takes decisive power to work together to make a difference, to hire new or additional personnel, to create new roles within an organisation – in short: a good Change Management. Many questions about technologies, organisational structures and basic concepts in the field of digital marketing will appear during the process that need to be clarified first of all. There will be instances where a new tool might be introduced which helps to uncover the real connections between single information and to ultimately develop and tap new potential. Nevertheless, only companies that further develop the relationship between IT and marketing will be able to operate successfully in the future.
Michael J. Kräftner
Michael J. Kräftner, 35, founded the company celum when he was 20 and now manages the firm as CEO in Linz and Vienna. His curiosity for media technology evolved during his studies in media technology and design.
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue Q3 2015. Picture credit © istock.com/kraphix