The Convergence of IT and Marketing: 10 Years in the making

By Ed Seaford


Back in 2002 you could only ever follow a career in the technology sector if you had an IT degree and was fluent in Java.  IT professionals looked down and sniggered into their coffee as marketing people tried to get to grips with SEO, the dark art at the time of coding of websites.  The really cool techies would sit at their desks with headphones plugged into this little machine called an iPod.  It would never become ‘ainstream’ they thought.

The marketing team were arguing for more budgets to get a bigger spread in the national newspapers, or paying big dollars to get a 25 second ad in the biggest soap opera on TV; Yellow pages was still the dominant player in business listings and SEO was something IT were trying to teach, but it was not really 'their thing'.  In 2002 there were clear separation of powers, and any marketing-IT collaboration saw a tornado of creativity clashing with a hurricane of technical.

According to recent research by Gartner, marketing heads in corporations would be the new leaders of technology by 2017. They would be controlling the technology budgets of companies rather than the IT departments. In recent years, marketing budgets focused specifically on technology have been increased as the world of social media has become the most cost effective sales channel for many brands. This is expected to continue with some companies already having a separate team of tech professionals under the marketing department who work closely with the IT department.

The use of digital media has empowered the consumers to communicate with the company directly. This has made it important for companies to measure the audience behavior and gain customer insight.  Companies such as Motorola and IBM are already in the process of amalgamating technology and marketing. Motorola spends more than 50 percent of its budget on technology supporting its social media and online marketing programs. Similarly, IBM is in the process of acquiring companies which specialize in social media analytics.

The new generation of marketeer are tech savvy, understand digital media better than anyone, in many cases can code in multiple language, SEO is a piece of cake and they are creating applications and tools that are putting millions of dollars in thousands of 20 somethings pockets. They have taken the ancient adage that there is no better marketing then word of mouth online; and redefined the concept of viral.

It will be interesting to see what 2017 looks like and how Marketing fits into IT and vice-versa. The cross pollination of skills, priorities vision is certainly improving business efficiency. However, whether or not Marketing will own the IT budget is still something many people question.