Marketing and IT both bring extremely useful insights, tools, cultures and disciplines that are highly relevant to organisational development in the digital era.
Just as it isn't enough to request an end-to-end digital strategy from the "web guy", a digital strategy should not be trusted to any single set of disciplines in your executive team.
Ideally, a group of stakeholders should input to its development, but that group should be led by Strategic Marketing and IT.
Both discipline areas have revolutionised their approach over the last 15 years and importantly, the ways in which they have evolved are highly relevant to each other. Both provide mediums, means and solutions to improve almost every operational process. A problem can be that they don't always see the synergy between them, and can compete for strategy leadership. Its important to draw boundaries and define roles if this is the case.
Strategic Marketing is concerned, at the highest level, with ensuring that your market concept (how your organisation meets its well-researched customer and stakeholder demand) aligns and resonates with your capability: your structure, your people, your values, your production methods, and yes, even your technology position. Strategic influence over all of these areas should flow out from this focus. (Read more about what Strategic Marketing does here)
Strategic Marketing is a powerful business planning and alignment discipline that needs to be built in to your business strategy from its inception. If you have a business or strategic plan that was not facilitated by the Strategic Marketing discipline, it may well be letting you down.
IT, like many other areas of your business, is a facilitator of the vision and strategy. Your IT team should be expert at understanding all of the latest innovations in information technology, including programs, systems, security, software development methodology options, (such as "Agile") and developments that might fit your business. They are there to offer you a safe and secure framework, with options to improve, and to clearly articulate the pros and cons of each, with strong reference to a jointly agreed strategic direction.
Whilst the Marketing and Communications group will be aware of the innovations in social media, along with an undertanding of how your organisation needs to be involved, IT needs to provide the framework in which to operate securely. (The diagram on this page will show how Strategic Marketing and IT need to interrelate)
Enterprise architecture (EA) is all about providing the ICT platforms to support desired business outcomes. It is a discipline that has emerged from the field of IT but begins with business goals, objectives, principles, strategies and drivers. In short, outputs from the Strategic Business Planning process, facilitated by Strategic Marketing.
There is significant discussion within the EA community about this function belonging not to the ICT group but to the business planning group. Essentially though, ITC and EA remain to be "service" functions, whilst Strategic Marketing is a strategy leadership function. They must work closely, but understand these boundaries.
The UK based SFIA Foundation (pronounced ‘sofia’) has gone so far as to rename the skill of Enterprise Architecture as Enterprise and business architecture development. This definition demonstrates just how close IT and Strategic Marketing are as disciplines, why each respective department has such a strong interest in business strategy, and why your organisation could be experiencing duplication and competition that is not constructively supporting your goals.
© Helen Morgan and Geoff Davis