Leveraging IT in a Marketing Strategy

Information technology is no longer its own business concern. While IT professionals must provide, maintain, and secure the enterprise information systems that drive a business operation, individual departments are demanding and expecting more from information technology. In fact, financial services companies are presently the highest spending industry on information technology, showing that all business operations are beginning to need more than a well-maintained infrastructure.

We need integrated solutions that harness and enhance the power of the existing infrastructure while always leaving room for growth. Data is universally valuable, and IT is the resource that should enable it to be actionable for other departments. For marketers, the situation is no different, and a growing marketing services industry certainly highlights this reality.

When existing technology resources limit a marketing department, they look externally in order to access technology that will enable them to perform competitively. The dynamic nature of off-premise infrastructure, however, is evidence that marketers do not need to find isolated solutions to isolated problems. Even if IT cannot build the information systems that will support every department’s precise and changing needs, this does not eliminate opportunity for collaborative information strategy. Independent marketing solutions suggest that technology and services can synergistically deliver the information that marketers crave.

Marketers seeking IT solutions may be rewarded for taking the following into consideration:

Understand IT in Context- Maintaining a business’s entire information infrastructure places a heavy burden on an IT department. Managing a number of communicating devices containing different applications and possessing different computing powers requires constant care and attention. Technology does not always cooperate. Marketers need to acknowledge the burdens placed on their IT department and understanding the aid they are able to receive as they search for solutions to their marketing concerns. Additionally, it is important to know the tools and software that are available, and the means through which they can be obtained. This requires marketers to look beyond their internal context. Depending on budget and size, a marketing team may want assistance in managing their IT solutions in addition to acquiring them. Nonetheless, whatever solutions are found, businesses will be collectively rewarded for integrating strategy and maintaining internal collaboration. Marketing insights that are accessed through strong information technology can be valuable knowledge for an entire operation as businesses build themselves around the customer. Additionally, cross-functional collaboration may reveal insights that were previously hidden. When marketers consider a business’s context, they better understand the conditions that limit or enable their actions.

Identify IT Goals- Marketers must first identify their problems or intentions, if they are going to implement solutions. Therefore, they must ask themselves how they can leverage IT in order to market more effectively and maintain relevance. Relevance is a measure of the number of positive interactions between consumers and a business and knowing how to create opportunities to interact well is critical. For marketers, information technology needs to keep track of every interaction in every form from phone calls to past purchase information to social media. While great marketing requires one to identify signals within this sea of data and take appropriate action, marketing technology makes it easier to do so. Of course, businesses are unique, and each has different customers, different values, and a different brand. Information technology is a means of knowing what marketers need to consider in order to make their communications more relevant.

Be Innovative and Curious – Given both context and goals, there is not necessarily only one way to approach marketing technology solutions. Both marketing and IT services are growing resources. Collaboration between internal and external business operations is important to flexible, informed decision-making, and cooperative action. The way in which these opportunities are leveraged is ultimately left to the discretion of decision makers themselves. Planning and development should understand hardware and software so that functions that need to be performed can do so optimally. An overwhelmed IT staff does not need to build new solutions into an enterprise information systems if marketing tools are created with integration in mind. Additionally, available marketing solutions are not static so marketers should consider how they can get the most out of existing tools, allow tools to communicate, or replace tools that have become obsolete. Ultimately, it is essential that marketers understand what and what not their IT departments can provide and identify outside vendors that can enhance their marketing efforts.