How Your IT Department is Being Brainwashed

A recent CIO article examines “why your CMO hates you and what you can do to improve the relationship,”* referring to the occasional tension between CMOs and CIOs.  The author of the story pegs the source of tension between these two groups as being caused by their opposing values – IT focusing on “back-end support and long-term strategy” while marketing is concerned with “creativity and quick wins.”


Is there tension between these two groups – sure.  But if the above listed reason is the source of said tension that’s more telling of a deeper problem within the organization.

IT and Marketing both actually do “back-end” work with the final result of their work being seen ‘up-front.’  Both require creativity (show me an “IT Guy” and I’ll show you a person that’s had to perform some kind of technical workaround to a user problem or system error).

Both have to handle “quick wins” and should have long-term strategic plans in the works (though, admittedly, there are an abhorrent number of marketing people who don’t think long term – anyone worth their salt, however, most certainly does).

The article does enumerate a number of ways the IT department can work better with marketing – IT folks educating themselves to marketing concepts, being flexible, dropping jargon, etc.

In that spirit – a brief list of ways marketing can work better with IT.

  • Realize priorities – Some IT priorities are more important than a marketing project.  You need to access the company’s internal and highly secure network from an insecure location to give a presentation – that may not be possible based on IT’s rules to maintain the security of the network.
  • Speak in terms of goals, not process – You need to access a tool offsite – ask how to accomplish the goal rather than trying to tell IT how to it. They (as do you) have tricks and tools at their disposal you’ve never heard of.
  • Know something about IT – Does your technical knowledge end at underlining and boldfacing in Word but you’re trying to establish a blog?  Take the time (or find a champion in your department that can take the time) to learn the basics of using the chosen platform to bridge the gap between marketing goals and technical capabilities. In the process your champion may find new programs or systems that can spark a marketing idea.
  • Ask for help – We’re all busy.  If a project you’ve proposed gets the red light ask why and ask for possible solutions around the problem.  Most projects should have some kind of a workaround – from technical problems to budget issues. It may not be perfectly in line with what you envisioned, but unicorns don’t always trot on rainbows and sometimes it just needs to be good enough.
  • Help IT– The IT department, probably not infrequently, gets short shrift.  They have “internal clients” they have to perform for and demonstrate success to.  Help them do that:
    • Let those higher up on the totem pole know when someone really comes through.
    • Support budget increases (as appropriate of course).
    • If they need to present their success or otherwise prove their merits internally help out.

Marketing, whether it’s to the masses or for an internal audience, is your strength.  Brainstorming ways to effectively and engagingly spread word to the entire company about a new feature or security measure will take minimal time on your part but fully allow IT to shine.

What other tips, techniques, and tricks have you discovered to bridge these two departments?

* Provided quote is from the subhead of the print version of the article which differs slightly from the online version

Image courtesy Flickr user Mel B.