How IT’s Relationship with Sales and Marketing is Changing

 Gavin Payne is a principal architect for Coeo, a SQL Server professional services company, and a Microsoft Certified Architect and Microsoft Certified Master. His role is to guide and lead organisations through data platform transformation and cloud adoption programmes.

When I once told my doctor I worked in IT, he told me everyone now works in IT - 15 years later I’m telling organisations that IT now needs to work with everyone. 

That’s a bit of a generalisation that some take for granted but what I mean is that everyone in IT needs to have a working – and as we’ll see sometimes greater - knowledge of what everyone else in their organisation does. More than just who they are and what they do, but how they do it, how they help your business meet its goals - and how IT helps them meet those goals.

Changing IT relationships

Sometimes, those relationships go even deeper. In the 1990s and 2000s, IT were the implementers of business process and business analysis. They worked closely with finance, supply chain and manufacturing teams to implement Enterprise Resource Planning - ERP, Business Intelligence - BI and General Ledger systems. Today, the demands of business are seeing a new strategic relationship emerge – between sales, marketing and IT.

Sales and Marketing’s new requirements of IT

IT’s relationship with sales and marketing has traditionally focussed around providing customer relationship management systems and developing “the company web site.” 

Times are changing and today the “digital revolution” is seeing the organisational boundaries between IT, sales and marketing blur. In the cloud first and mobile first era, the trend is for IT and marketing teams to join and create virtual digital teams.  Each needs to know what matters to the other and ultimately be able to think for each other.

Business plans change quickly in the digital world - a simple re-tweet that goes viral can create global opportunities that didn’t exist at breakfast time. When time is of the essence, a joint approach between sales, marketing and IT is needed - to make marketing projects that integrate, that scale and have a consistent experience across many devices. I regularly hear of marketing teams asking IT about the bleeding edge technical options available to them so they stand out from the crowd. Software developers increasingly want to know more about marketing’s plan of attack so they can use every tool in their armoury to make their app look the best but still meet its purpose. Infrastructure teams ask for plans that help them manage effortlessly a thousand, then a million, then ten million concurrent users. Finally, sales ask for systems to take their orders in any currency – whether real or virtual.

What’s different about it all now?

Some will quite rightly say that working in cross-discipline teams is nothing new and has been the foundation of many successful projects. We also all recognise that IT has supported sales and marketing projects for many years.

What’s changing is that sales and marketing are now using IT such as mobile apps, social media and cloud services to actually execute their campaigns – not just support them. Twitter and LinkedIn are replacing cold calling and mailshots, Software as a Service platforms are being used for discrete parts of much larger solutions and who knows how the Internet of Things will be used for marketing.

However, none of this is happening in isolation. IT needs to integrate these new services with old services, transfer data between systems and make their platforms scale. Security, integration standards and cost models need to be considered, managed and  governed.

This all makes now the time for IT professionals to prepare themselves for the day when marketing’s next requirement of IT is one of the above. Now is the time to be following the trends in those industries, being familiar with your business’s marketing strategies and watching how your competitors are using IT – traditional but especially digital.