Modern businesses are no longer deploying basic, traditional marketing tactics to communicate with clients and generate leads. Rather, enterprises are leveraging communication technology, social media and big data analytics to monitor client activities and preferences to report on trends and optimize business visibility. Data analytics technologies are collecting client information and translating the data into actionable insights to guide marketing strategies and methods to interacting with clients via various platforms. Entrepreneurs must not shy away from the technological integration of such solutions into marketing practices, combining IT departments with communication activities.
In fact, many businesses are finding chief marketing officers and chief information officers have increasingly overlapping roles within the organization. Marketing departments are spending larger portions of the budget on IT solutions and services, creating a list of demands and requirements similar to those of IT departments. Rather than working to clearly define and separate each department into their own categories, entrepreneurs should embrace the overlaps and look for ways to have each department complement the offerings and activities of others. Unfortunately, the common use of technology and big data analytics between several departments is also causing friction among managers accustomed to more segregated operations.
Entrepreneurs must work to enhance synergy within the organization, emphasizing collaboration as a core strategy to business growth. Small businesses have limited resources and manpower to achieve gains and growth, underscoring the importance of teamwork to take advantage of tools and expertise to improve overall performance. When marketing and IT departments learn how to work together on common business goals, resources are optimized and data is more effectively used across the company.
How well does your marketing and IT department play together?
Making Interdepartmental Friends
In 2012, Gartner predicted CMOs would be spending more on IT solutions than CIOs in many major companies by 2017, demonstrating the evolution of marketing departments into more data-driven business components. Some experts expect this transition in historically communications-based departments to impact the way IT departments interact with other teams. In the past, CIOs have been in charge of deciding how data will be gathered and used throughout the company. With more insight and accessibility to big data analytics, however, marketing departments may start to share opinions with IT leaders on how to leverage technology and data streams more effectively to meet specific goals. As a result, conflict may arise between the two departments.
Entrepreneurs should consider nipping this potential disruption in the bud, bringing together leaders from both departments early to outline common goals and expected overlaps in functionality. When leaders see how big data will be accessed, monitored, reported, analyzed and translated by other departments, they may see how their own decisions and duties will impact other areas of the business. Long gone are the days of data being useful to just a few workers. Now, all departments will be generating data streams, reporting on outcomes and turning the figures into strategy options to help move forward in the industry. Failing to acknowledge data's role in the bigger picture of the overall company will allow for conflict to arise and delay growth.
Furthermore, shrinking budgets are wreaking havoc on burgeoning businesses as they battle uncertain economic conditions. As companies continue to face low consumer confidence and poor economic projections, entrepreneurs are tasked with making cuts wherever possible. The need to reduce expenditures can drive the convergence of many departments, tasks or services within the enterprise. A company may no longer house a stand-alone IT department, but rather outsource certain IT-related tasks to experts on a temporary basis, while increasing technology expertise or experience in new hires to marketing departments. Relying less on an in-house IT department and expecting more expertise from other employees may free up capital while further blurring the lines between IT tasks and marketing responsibilities.
To encourage greater collaboration between departments or company experts, entrepreneurs should invest in cloud-based solutions that allow for file sharing and communications in real time. Making data streams, reports and analysis available to all staff connected to the network will accelerate decision making and make a business more flexible in an uncertain economic climate. Changes to customer demands or industry regulations may call for a single department to adjust operations to avoid financial loss. The data needed to determine what changes would suit the company best may have been reported on by another department earlier that month. Accessing that information from a centralized location will ensure all departments are up-to-date on the latest information while also making it easier for decision makers to adapt to fluctuations.
When company leaders see how data is used throughout the company, and marketers gain greater respect and need for IT solutions, cloud-based big data technology becomes a must-have. Likewise, big data analytics must be incorporated into company vision and growth strategies, acknowledging that all departments are now using the resources to support initiatives and compete with larger counterparts in the market. Marketing departments must meet evolving demands with big data analytics, and IT experts may find themselves working with marketing teams or other departments to achieve goals, rather than on their unique projects.