Sunday, June 8, 2008

Marketing vs IS - Why is there such a conflict?

I started this thread with Prelude to a Post. This is part 1 or part 2, depending upon how you look at, exploring the background and some of the foundation issues in the conflict between Marketing and IS.


In the days before the web, marketing and the IS group had little interaction. Back in those days, about the most interaction that took place between the two organizations was with software licenses on PCs, or any technical support across system platforms. There was no real animosity, no territories to protect, no feuds, and no conflicts. But the web changed all of that.

In the early days of the web, there really wasn’t much substance to it, other than the technical potential and the promises. Back in the early 1990s, the Internet was really an exploratory platform, and there wasn’t a clear roadmap for it would fit in the business architecture. In the organization that I was working for at the time, we were going to use the Internet as another platform to supply all of our technical documentation, but even that looked like it would be technically challenging. In that mix, with the Internet as a bit player in the marketing toolbox and the technical challenges being outside the traditional marketing set, it was perfectly logical for the IS group to support the technical side of the web.

Over the years, as the web started to evolve and web content started to develop structure, the IS group started to take a step back from the web. Depending on where you were, there were probably a host of reasons: maybe their team got burned by management (“you put WHAT on the web site?”); maybe they got tired of the hassle of “publishing” content; or maybe the tools for publishing started to streamline some of the “technical challenges” of publishing and bring publishing closer to the designers. Whatever the event or series of events, more and more of the web started to fall under the domain of marketing -- and marketing discovered that they needed to learn more and more about the technology of marketing in order to execute on the things that they would like to do.

Over the years, the line between what is a marketing function, managing the content of the web, managing customer analysis, segmentation, and market research, managing the product, what it is, the go-to-market strategies and how it’s monetized, have all become intertwined with the web and web technologies. Add to this something that a Director of IS told me back in 2000, “the web is changing, and things are moving away from html files. Web sites are going to be built with databases and content assembled dynamically.” While I had a difficult time understanding it at the time, it’s not only common today, this blog is built on that exact type of engine. But more importantly, what it’s meant for marketing, is that the web -- and a host of marketing tools -- are built on a foundation of software development.

Now, when you are designing an outbound marketing campaign, you need to understand a complex geography of programs and software. And when you build a web component for that campaign, you may be designing a web application, complete with functional requirements, if-then statements, and e-commerce tie-ins that connect to the order-processing accounting-engine of the organization. And now you are tied into some of the core, operational components of the business.

In this mix, there are a new set of questions:
  • Who’s owns what domain?
  • Who’s decision does the organization listen to?
  • Who’s experts and consultants drive what?
Add in to all of that that you’re probably taking the organization in new directions, and new directions may be counter to that other core IS principle of keeping things operating stably.

As this post is starting to run on, I’ll continue on this thread in a future post.

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