IBM Study: IT, Marketing Need To Get Together More Often
Senior marketing and IT executives need to work together more if they're going to take advantage of mobile devices and social networks. That's one of the key takeaways from a new study by IBM about marketing in the age of distributed communication channels.
The study, State of Marketing 2012, queried more than 350 marketing professionals in a range of industries. Among its findings: more than half of respondents who characterized their companies as high-performing pointed to good relationships between marketing and IT departments.
Mobile, Social Media
The study noted that this is 10 percent higher than other companies, and that the high-performers are three times more likely to actively create a companywide customer experience across channels.
According to the report, about one-third of responding marketing executives said they intend to deliver mobile ads within the next 12 months. This is the highest rate for that relatively new marketing channel in the five-year history of the IBM study.
Additionally, 46 percent intend to use mobile Web sites and 45 percent are targeting mobile apps. In social media, marketers are experimenting, with about one-quarter of respondents interested in launching apps on social networking sites, in utilizing user-generated content in social media channels, or in launching social media ads.
But these mobile and social efforts, particularly the experimentation, require marketing and IT departments to work more closely together than they may be accustomed, the report said.
Yuchun Lee, vice president of the IBM Enterprise Marketing Management Group, said in a statement the research indicates that, "as new channels continue to mature and consumer habits evolve, marketing and IT have no alternative but to emerge from their traditional silos and form a strong partnership that puts the business in a position to succeed."
Lee added that the "odd couple" of a chief marketing officer and a chief information officer "will be the catalysts in forging this union," in order to enable the "types of personalized multichannel brand relationships that today's customers demand."
But the report indicates that, in many companies, there's still a long way to go. Almost 60 percent of respondents said the lack of IT alignment and integration are "significant barriers" to the improved technology infrastructure and integration that are required to pursue these marketing opportunities.
The study also found that only 29 percent of respondents are effectively integrating the disparate marketing channels, particularly mobile and social marketing, while the vast majority of respondents run these channels separately and on an ad-hoc basis.
'Need for Agility and Speed'
In fact, simply keeping pace with the growth of these channels and the related device choices is cited as the biggest challenge over the next three to five years by 41 percent of those surveyed. Additionally, 51 percent reported that they are not using data from social media marketing efforts to inform their decisions.
We asked Jay Henderson, strategy program director for IBM's Enterprise Marketing Management Group, why IT and marketing departments do not work together more often.
He replied that, "generally, IT is often perceived by marketing as not understanding their business problems and not understanding the need for agility and speed." Historically, he noted, IT departments have been built around the need to "create standardization and drive costs down," not around being flexible and quick to adapt.
In some organizations, Henderson said, it's "pragmatic" for marketing to employ other solutions, such as outside software-as-a-service providers or even developing their own IT mini-units.
But, he added, this would best be done in cooperation with IT, because "you need a coordinated approach, which conveys a single customer experience and a single brand, and a good relationship with IT will help in creating a single technical infrastructure to tie it all together."