Study shows IT/marketing relationship affects success

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Improving the relationship between marketing and IT departments can boost the success of revenue-driving marketing efforts in organizations by an average of 15%, according to a study by Aelera Corp., a marketing and technology consultancy based in Alpharetta, Ga.

The study, released last month, was based on interviews with 146 marketing and IT executives, conducted online during the first quarter. It was designed to examine how well such executives work together and to determine the impact of their relationships on revenue-generating projects, said Julie Carlock, VP-sales and marketing at Aelera.

In a key finding, 61% of respondents said marketing projects at their organizations were successful, and 58% said marketing/IT projects were successful.

"There is a pretty strong correlation between how they rated their relationship and how successful they are," said Jim Stachura, Aelera’s senior manager-analytics. He added that about 25% of the difference in the perceived success rate of a project can be directly attributed to the strength of the relationship between marketing and IT.

Respondents were asked questions about 47 variables, ranging from communications to system architecture, to see where breakdowns can occur between marketing and IT.

IT helps marketing

On some topics, there was agreement. For example, 90% of respondents agreed that IT could contribute a great deal toward helping marketing achieve the company’s marketing goals; 68% agreed that marketing drives marketing IT investments; and 60% agreed that marketing and IT are strategically aligned and are viewed as collaborators at the executive level.

However, on other topics there was wide disagreement. About two-thirds of marketers said marketing does a good job explaining the business requirements behind their requests for IT, while only one-third of IT respondents agreed with that statement.

The study also found that IT respondents were about three times less likely than their marketing counterparts to think marketing effectively uses existing applications and technology.

Marketing respondents were more optimistic about their relationship with IT. The study found that marketing executives were twice as likely as IT professionals to rate the current relationship between marketing and IT as positive. More than one in four IT respondents rated the relationship as "poor."

Carlock said there are several steps that organizations can take to improve relationships between marketing and IT.

"Marketing and IT need to better understand how the other operates," she said. "Technology needs to understand that marketing operates on short time frames, and marketing needs to understand the complexity of IT projects."

Carlock said in order to improve relationships, marketing and IT executives need to learn each other’s nomenclature and spend time discussing business objectives.

"This is one of the huge areas on which they disagree," she said. "Marketing feels they give IT their business requirements, and IT disagrees. Marketing feels they give IT plenty of time, and IT disagrees."

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