At a recent gathering of marketing executives and service providers, the hackneyed question was raised, "what keeps marketers up at night"?
The answer was no cliche. Most at the table agreed that what confounds marketers most is their own IT departments.
This was a new one on me, but it made sense. Consumers are tech-savvy and digitally empowered. For every problem or idea, there are one hundred technology solutions, and a million questions. Will this platform integrate with my existing systems? Is it better to buy hardware or be in the cloud? Will this solution be obsolete the minute I buy it?
The IT department, which was traditionally the clearinghouse of new solutions, cannot easily handle the influx of questions and problems. Some are understaffed. They have plenty to do trying to service everyone's individual gadget needs, ensure bandwidth and security, and basically keep the infrastructure humming. CMOs and their teams are left to figure things out for themselves more often than ever before.
But there are some indications, too, that CMOs may not be proactively working to improve the dialogue between marketing and IT. A new study by Forrester and Heidrick & Struggles underscored the knowledge gap, reporting that "40 per cent of CMOs say increasing their technology savvy is their top self-improvement goal, a dramatic increase from the previous survey in 2008."
But the study goes onto say that CMOs don't prioritize developing a better relationship with the chief information officer or chief technology officer as particularly important." Only 30 per cent of senior marketers see this relationship as important to develop, indicating a wide gap between the two departments."
I hope that chief communication officers recognize the opportunity here. With the natural orientation to convening and collaboration that is the hallmark of great PR teams, CCOs can drive meaningful engagement with IT. That will undoubtedly return better solutions to marketing and communications. This is yet another way that the power of PR can be an catalyst for positive change that impacts business performance.