The Marketing and Technology Gap

Remember the days when CEOs went to their IT department to get a website built? I do. It wasn’t that long ago. In case you’re looking for your next Internet rabbit hole, take a few minutes and find some of your favorite brands in the Internet Archive. Take a look at their websites from the late 1990s or early 2000s and you’ll get a good taste of what IT-driven marketing looked like.

Thankfully, we’ve found a better balance between IT and marketing as we look at our digital strategies, but we still have a long way to go.

IT is still often choosing the tech stack with very little, if any, input from the marketing team. Often, these decisions are driven by the direction chosen by the company many years or even decades ago (i.e. We’re a Microsoft shop). Further, IT still has gaps in understanding marketing processes, workflows, and governance that will go into supporting and maintaining a digital presence. We recently worked with a client whose IT team was literally in a different building, across the street, from where the marketing teams sat. In environments such as this, real effort needs to be focused into cross-departmental understanding. It doesn’t happen magically. Even further, IT is sometimes given limitations, such as budget, compliance, or security, that are positioned at odds with business or customer needs. Again, it takes effort and collaboration to resolve these surface-level contradictions.

Marketing, on the other hand, still tends to underappreciate the complexities that go into a stable, secure, and maintainable tech infrastructure. Central to the complexities are the integrations that are necessary to tie an ever-increasing number of technologies together for a best-in-class solution. When marketing sees a competitor launch a new feature, the race is on to keep up. What often gets lost is the conversation related to the long-term costs and implications of adding additional layers to the tech stack. Eventually, marketers may end up with a true house of cards or a 25th-round Jenga tower and not even recognize their role in creating it as they express their frustrations to what appears to be an unresponsive IT team.

The result: high levels of frustration from both technologists and marketers. Solutions are simply too complex, adding both time and cost to what many (including CEOs) rightly believe should be simple tasks.

The good news: we’re learning from all of these experiences and high-performance marketing and IT teams are working together in new and smarter ways. IT can lead the optimization of the overall tech stack with marketing’s buy-in on the benefits of running a more nimble and agile organization. Marketing can drive an alignment on customer expectations with IT’s buy-in on the business goals. Both IT and marketing are now in the process of learning to wrangle data to the benefit of the company as well as to the delight of customers. This is the newest frontier for many organizations. Things are going in the right direction.


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