How Marketing Leaders Can Gain Greater Alignment with IT

By JT Bricker

Published on 25 Jan, 2024

In the ever-evolving realm of marketing technology, achieving alignment between marketing and IT teams stands out as a critical factor for success. As large organizations navigate the intricate challenges posed by technological advancements and shifting consumer behaviors, the integration of these two departments is not merely advantageous but essential for fostering business growth. 

This article emphasizes the crucial importance of alignment and provides insights into practical ways to make this alignment a reality within your organization.

Why Should IT and Marketing Align?

In 2022, Martech spending in the United States soared to a staggering $21.14 billion, reflecting a 14.3% surge from the previous year. This comes as no surprise, considering that, according to “The State of Martech 2023” report by Gartner, martech budgets rose to 30% of all marketing spend, up from 24% the previous year.

However, high spending doesn’t necessarily equate to marketers gaining the required ROI from their tech investments. In fact, according to PMI Global Project Management, software projects are notorious for falling short, with:

  • 14% of software projects being canceled without results
  • 31% not meeting their expected objectives
  • 43% exceeding their budget
  • and 49% surpassing agreed upon roadmaps and timelines

All of which leads to a high level of failure to deliver tangible ROI. This highlights the critical juncture at which marketing and IT find themselves. More than ever, the imperative for Marketing and IT teams to work in tandem has become clear. At Shift Paradigm, we observe our clients making substantial investments on both IT and marketing technology projects such as:

  • ERP, Inventory & Commerce Management
  • Evolving Mobile and Web Applications
  • Internal Operational Workflow Management
  • Lead Lifecycle Management
  • Evolving Data Complexities in Storage, Compliance, Security, & Accessibility
  • Personalized Buying Experiences through CMS, DXP, and MAPs tools

All of these considerations lead us to a deeper understanding of the ‘why.’ However, the big question remains: how can we construct the appropriate bridges to facilitate collaboration across the constantly shifting core of an organization’s marketing technology stack?

Below, we outline the four fundamental areas that we believe will pave the way and enable you to explore methodologies we employ to cultivate alignment between marketing and IT.

1. First, Establish a Cross-Functional Team

Creating a cross-functional team comprising members from both IT and marketing departments can significantly enhance collaboration and bridge the gap between the two teams.

The Team

This team should consist of individuals with diverse skill sets that best fit the needs of active or important initiatives the two teams work on together. As a starting point, we’d recommend having the following roles in this blended group:

  1. Marketing Strategists
  2. Product Manager
  3. Data / Technical Architect
  4. Engineers
  5. UX Designer
  6. Marketing Operations 
  7. Data Analyst

This collaboration ensures diverse skills are pooled to identify opportunities and obstacles, formulating solutions balancing marketing objectives and technical feasibility. By working together, they can collectively identify opportunities and challenges and devise effective solutions that align with both marketing goals and technical feasibility.

Assign a Leader & Coordinator

For effective collaboration, appoint a designated leader within the cross-functional team, acting as a liaison between IT and marketing. This leader ensures both teams are aligned and working towards shared objectives. Regular meetings and workshops, led by this individual, encourage knowledge sharing and foster a collaborative environment. We do recommend a leader who’s played both sides of the fence and has diverse skills, who can empathize and confidently engage between both groups.

Consider a coordinator for significant initiatives, such as launching a new DXP, CDP, Application, or Data warehouse. In this setup, the leader focuses on setting the tone, strategy, and direction, while the coordinator ensures seamless execution, keeping every team member on track and addressing any issues promptly.

2. Next, Craft a Dynamic Shared Roadmap

A unified roadmap serves as the backbone for aligning efforts between IT and marketing teams on both sides of the fence. This shared technology roadmap ensures alignment in implementing and managing marketing technology solutions, establishing clear expectations on team capacity, priorities, dependencies, and providing a unified blueprint for both teams.

Core Components

Your roadmap should include common items such as timelines, milestones, and goals. However, the following areas are often missed, causing potential conflicts:

  • Team capacity
  • Budget allocation and expenditure
  • Strategic user insights and beta testing
  • Security and data reviews
  • Testing and UAT of new releases
  • Optimization or monitoring of existing technology

Roadmap Refinement

Regularly revisiting and refining the roadmap fosters agility. Collaborative efforts prioritize projects, efficiently allocate resources, and identify potential challenges or gaps in the existing infrastructure. This ongoing refinement enables both teams to adapt to evolving marketing needs and technological advancements.

3. Prioritize Transparent Communication

Open and consistent communication serves as the cornerstone of every great collaboration. This is particularly crucial in today’s predominantly remote and global workforce, where IT and marketing may not be working in the same buildings or even the same continent, making real-time dialogue challenging. To foster the right culture of communication between these two essential functions, consider the following.

Proactive Engagement

Encourage both teams to proactively engage, understanding goals, challenges, and requirements on a professional, personal, and project level. Regular meetings, brainstorming sessions, and collaborative decision-making build a shared understanding, enhancing alignment and mutual support.

Establish Effective Communication Channels

In the realm of communication, the options are abundant, but the key lies in using channels effectively. 

  • Project Management Tools: Choose a Project, Product, or Workflow management tool that seamlessly suits both teams. Jira, ClickUp, Adobe’s Workfront, or any mutually preferred tool can be used, however the processes around the chosen tool are crucial, as misalignments can lead to breakdowns and project failures. Leaders should align on the most suitable tool, even if it means marketing adopting an IT-preferred tool, to streamline communication and reduce barriers.
  • Messaging Platforms: Leverage platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams for proactive communication, establishing shared channels for critical projects.
  • Center of Excellence for Documentation: A centralized repository for critical documentation, such as data sources for personalizing emails, architecture diagrams of the martech stack, or IT requirements for an upcoming joint project with marketing, proves invaluable. Intranets or tools like Atlassian’s Confluence, ClickUp Docs, Notion, and others can bring documentation into a single, accessible space.

Implementing these core communication channels facilitates real-time collaboration, enabling both teams to transparently exchange requests, requirements, defects, and innovative ideas.

Set a Reliable Cadence

Ensure a regular rhythm of interactions between IT and marketing teams by establishing touchpoints to review progress, share insights, and address evolving escalations. The most collaborative IT and marketing teams set cadences together for:

  • On-going sprint collaboration
  • Prioritization unpacking and roadmapping
  • Budget reviews and planning
  • Retrospectives after big milestones

These recommendations, among others, promote a deeper understanding of each other’s priorities and facilitate smoother alignment across diverse initiatives

4. Finally, Staying Informed in a Dynamic Landscape

In fostering a culture of continuous improvement, it is crucial for both IT and marketing teams to stay current with trends, needs, and requirements.

Proactive Martech-Related Trend Seeking

  • IT teams stay updated on the latest marketing technology trends.
  • Knowledge exchange facilitates leveraging cutting-edge tools for marketing.
  • Regular reviews assess the effectiveness of existing technology tools.

Prioritizing Data Governance and Security

  • IT collaborates with marketing to implement robust data governance.
  • Ensures compliance with regulations and establishes secure data protocols.
  • Leverages data analytics and monitoring for actionable insights.

This unified approach not only meets technological needs but also upholds the highest standards of data compliance and security in the dynamic landscape of marketing technology.

Navigate Together 

Thriving in today’s marketing landscape necessitates a paradigm shift that fosters collaboration between marketing and IT teams through transparent communication and mutual understanding. 

This shift empowers organizations to turn modern marketing challenges into opportunities by embracing multidisciplinary teams, unified technology roadmaps, proactive technology trend approaches, and aligned data governance plans. By adopting this approach, companies can “shift paradigms”, gain a competitive advantage, and unlock their true go-to-market potential.

Your Compass for Collaboration

At Shift Paradigm, we strongly believe that the collaboration between IT and marketing teams is not just a necessity but a powerful opportunity for organizations to thrive in the digital era. We’re here to assist you in navigating this shift. Connect with us today to explore how our Shift Tech Navigator solution can help you achieve alignment between IT and marketing. This comprehensive evaluation and roadmap provide the guidance needed to understand the best way to build bridges and break bread with both teams.

Together, these teams can drive transformative change, deliver exceptional customer experiences, and achieve sustainable business growth. We would be honored to assist you in reaching these goals. Talk to Shift Paradigm today!

Written By JT Bricker

As a strategic marketing leader, J.T. leads teams in helping clients design and execute actionable marketing and sales strategies and impactful execution that drive revenue growth and profitability. He works closely with organizations to develop a strategically grounded approach to marketing and sales with a blend of strategy, analytics, technology and creative to achieve growth objectives. J.T. works with the Shift Paradigm team in advising clients on best practices in revenue growth strategies, strategic sales and marketing alignment, account-based strategies, demand generation, marketing technology, marketing operations, analytics and sales management. Prior to joining Shift Paradigm, J.T. held a variety of marketing leadership and strategic consulting roles including management consultant, marketing operations, pricing and offer management, demand generation and analytics in multiple enterprise organizations.
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