Guest Column | November 9, 2017

Why Your IT Department Should Focus On IT (And Not Marketing)


By Brian Rigney, CEO, Zmags

As marketing experts become more tech-savvy and IT experts become more business savvy, the roles of these two groups come closer and closer to intersecting or even blending. However, what is often overlooked is how different their goals, priorities, and expertise really are, especially in retail organizations.

Marketing typically owns telling the brand's story and creating rich, omni-channel content whereas IT owns the technical process of publishing that same content and the management to web assets. Historically, this is because the web has been considered a technical asset, now an outdated notion. It’s time to take content publication off IT’s plate and leave it to marketers.

The Current Roles Of IT And Marketing

Marketing and IT clearly have different goals which can be traced back to the structural differences in their organizational missions. Consider what the IT team does when it’s not supporting marketers. An IT team’s top priorities are the technical health of the organization.

In the retail environment, this includes the security of business and consumer data, the organization’s technical infrastructure including both in-store and online, the technology to deliver customer experiences in line with the brand, and much more — most of these likely take priority over any marketing “to dos” such as publishing content for a weekly promotion.

Marketing has a very different agenda and with it, a different set of goals and success metrics. Retail marketers are typically in charge of:

  • growing the customer base quickly and cost-effectively
  • managing the brand and brand experience
  • differentiating the brand and its products for consumers
  • getting new products to market quickly
  • delivering a unified experience to customers
  • implementing innovations that improve customer experiences, both online and in the store

While their roles are different, marketing often relies heavily on IT to accomplish its goals. For example, if rich omni-channel content is the core of digital marketing, and marketers must update and test that content quickly to achieve the results that tech-savvy consumers demand, then marketers must work closely with IT to create that rich content, and then iterate to identify what works best.

However, according to Content Marketing Institute survey, 66 percent of the marketers polled claimed they still require education on how to use technology to manage content.

Today, this doesn’t have to be the case. When e-commerce marketers find what works, they should have the authority and know-how to quickly adjust web content. The good news is with the easy-to-use tools now available, retailers can empower marketers to own e-commerce sites. This would create efficiencies for both marketing and IT professionals and allow each to focus on its unique organizational mission.

Identify Technology That Empowers Marketers

With speed-to-market a top priority for retail marketers, it no longer makes sense to rely on an already-burdened IT team to quickly turn around marketing content. However, without the proper tools, retailers require developers to handle code embedded commerce functionalities.

This leads to longer production times and frustrating back-and-forth over what can and cannot be accomplished in a limited window, thus leading to limited creative design. When developers are spending time creating or updating consumer-facing digital experiences they can be missing significant IT opportunities elsewhere. They often are also out of their core competency; for example, they would rather not worry about font size and image placement — tasks better suited for their creative colleagues.

But what if marketers could independently make layout and content changes on the fly, without involving the IT department? For initiatives more suited for marketers, marketing and IT leaders should identify and use Software-as-a-service (SaaS) products for marketers that require minimal dependence on IT.

Retail marketers can take control. They can ask their e-commerce platform providers about tools that will allow them to add rich shoppable customer experiences at a moment’s notice, without coding or a need for assistance from the IT team. Creating rich shoppable content might seem overwhelming, but there are user-friendly tools that work with e-commerce and CMS platforms and empower marketers to easily create and rapidly publish these updates on their own — without the aid of IT. This can be done in minutes or hours, not weeks or months.

While content publication has traditionally fallen under IT’s purview, that no longer makes sense. Ultimately, leading brands that leverage technology and empower their marketers to wholly own the creation and publishing of rich content will win in the competitive retail industry by rapidly creating content that effectively engages with and converts customers.