Think Tank

Brain Food for IT Executives.

Building Bridges: Marketing and IT

It's no secret that the IT and marketing departments have trouble understanding each other. That's a shame, because marketers are striving to integrate vast sources of data, present targeted messages to consumers and increase the measurability of marketing—all of which require technology. Yet a study conducted by Alpharetta, Ga.-based Aelera Corp. last year found that only 61% of marketing projects succeed, a record that the IT services firm says could be improved by an average of 15% through a better relationship between marketing and IT. Marketers typically say that IT is slow, inflexible and clueless about customers, while technologists say marketing types do a poor job of explaining what they need. In a recent bulletin, Elana Anderson, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., went so far as to call the relationship dysfunctional—but not irreparable. Anderson identified the following ways bellwether companies can improve their marketing/IT relationships:

  • Move some IT staffers into the marketing group for dedicated IT support.
  • Create a marketing services team that fulfills ad hoc requests for data and custom reports.
  • Make technology decisions through a cross-functional committee.
  • Have a chief marketing officer who sits at the executive table with the CIO.
  • Develop a strategic technology road map for marketing.

Mitch Betts

Building Bridges: Marketing and IT
Image Credit: Getty Images

Thought Leader

In a recent interview published on Gartner Inc.'s Web site, Intel Corp. CIO Doug Busch
expresses some exasperation with IT's reputation for boondoggles: "IT has been the poster child in the media for failed business projects," Busch says. "But name another function that's done better. Acquisitions delivering forecasted financial return? New products making it to market on time and on budget? Executive hires who turned out as anticipated? IT is not that bad in comparison."

Busch also says in the wide-ranging interview that every group within the IT department needs to have "a forward-looking R&D component. If you don't look downstream at opportunities in front of you, you choke off the path of continuous improvement."

Intel Corp. CIO Doug Busch
Intel Corp. CIO Doug Busch

Things to Ponder

  • Press release: "Judy Ravin, director of English Communications Services LLC, an accent-reduction firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., has produced a new system to help foreign nationals lose their accents. 'Lose Your Accent in 28 Days' combines a CD-ROM with an audio CD and a book to help professionals lose their accents in just one month."

  • The average CIO tenure has improved from 18 months to 30 months in the past two years, says Meta Group Inc. analyst Jonathan Poe.

  • IT spending averages 7.4% of revenue at companies where top executives view IT as a significant enabler of the company's growth, but only 4.7% of revenue at companies where executives view IT as a growth inhibitor, according to a survey of 203 executives by New York-based Bain & Co.

  • Forrester Research predicts that the next boom in IT spending will start in 2008 and continue through 2016.

  • Enterprise IT architecture typically focuses on technology and business processes but almost never focuses on the social aspects of work and the workplace, says Meta Group analyst Mike Gotta. So in the near future, companies will need to hire "social architects" to find out how people really work, communicate, collaborate, innovate and solve problems, he says.


Pain Points

Which technology areas are the greatest sources of pain in your organization today?

1. Security

2. Storage

3. Software license management

4. Remote access

5. Network performance management

6. Wireless LAN/Wi-Fi

BASE: 104 C-level executives at U.S.businesses with more than 100 employees

Source: Sage Research Inc., Natick, Mass., June 2004

The IT Economy

  • "The Lukewarm IT Recovery Continues" is the headline on a recent Forrester Research bulletin. Forrester says, "We've shaved our forecast for U.S. IT spending growth in 2004 to 5% from 6%." But lukewarm is better than the deep freeze of 2001-2003. "The moderate pace of IT spending growth in the U.S. and Canada offers IT buyers a perfect combination of low prices and minimal concerns about vendor viability," Forrester says. "While vendor consolidation is picking up ... there still is more than enough competition for IT buyers to push for—and get—significant discounts in price, especially in software."

  • There may be an uptick in year-end spending, but expectations for next year's IT spending took a dip this summer, according to a survey of 100 corporate CIOs by The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York. When asked in August for their predictions, the CIOs said their IT capital budgets will grow only 1.9% in 2005, a sharp drop from the 3.6% forecast they made one month earlier.


PCs 80%
Servers 72%
Networking 68%
Storage 56%

BASE: 639 IT decision-makers at North American and European enterprises; multiple responses allowed.

Security 67%
Application servers 60%
Databases 53%

BASE: 873 IT decision-makers at North American and European enterprises; multiple responses allowed.

Source for both: Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass., August 2004


Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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