Technology enabled marketing – bridging the gap between IT and Marketing
As shared in previous posts, investments in IT and Big Data can play pivotal roles in successful and personalized customer experiences and marketing campaigns for banks and credit unions. To unlock this differentiator you require focused leadership to drive collaboration between IT and Marketing.
Within financial institutions, the gap between these two departments may not seem like a priority, until you dig below the surface. While working together on the same project, IT may be focused on achieving security and technology stability. Marketing, however, may want to ensure more accessibility and simplified transactions. Without goals to connect them, conflict and frustration may occur when one deliverable becomes prioritized ahead of another.
Although most people understand collaboration will enable better solutions for clients, in practice it can be become more about requirement sharing and a courtesy ‘check-in the box’ than true collaboration. Interestingly, both sides also differ in their view of how well they work together. While 78% of IT people think they work collaboratively with marketing, only 58% of marketers agree.
Why is bridging the gap important:
Data and technology is now at the centre of customer experience management and marketing. New and upgraded technology is the most effective way to obtain and synthesize data. This data, in turn, is used to guide changes to systems, processes, and technology. Making the engagement between IT and Marketing is essential in today’s fast-paced world.
It’s no secret that technology is a large expenditure. Citi estimates that 15% to 25% of a typical bank’s annual budget goes towards maintaining legacy systems, investing in new systems and paying IT staff. Many are still maintaining on legacy systems which are forty plus years old. Improving security and stability and pushing creative solutions can take a back seat to maintaining current operations in such environments. The reality is that it just simply isn’t financial sustainable to not bridge the gap.
How to bridge the gap between IT and Marketing:
Before getting started, it is important to take a step back and truly internalize that effective departmental collaboration can be challenging. If it was simple, it wouldn’t need to be managed. Here are a few tips to help bridge the gap:
Identify areas and individuals that effectively collaborate and learn from them
Collaboration will naturally form between some teams and individuals where there will be mutual benefit. Seek out those that do it effectively and learn from them. Find out what drives the collaboration: Is there a firm dependency to work together in a process? An existing relationship? Shared outcomes? What are the results? Understanding the natural drivers will provide valuable insights into potential paths of least resistance when formalizing programs. Understanding the results will provide you tangible examples to base both expectations and targets on. It will also offer positive best practices to share with your teams when providing the ‘why’ in rolling out any formal programs.
Build and develop your own relationships and lead by example
You should not expect your departments and teams to effectively collaborate without forging your own relationships and networks. For some, this will mean re-building bridges that have been burned previously. While for others, it will be a check in the box. Regardless, it is worth the effort. Above all, building relationships needs to come from an authentic place and therefore align with your own personal leadership style.
Align on goals; think customer centric
To foster a collaborative environment, teams need to have shared goals. Leverage your newly strengthened relationships to strategize. When synergy and collaboration is valuable often the shared goals will already exist within currently programs, they may just need some changes in framing. This is a good test to see if what you are seeking is truly collaboration or simply for your partner team to be more agreeable. They must also need to see the value in joining in. When creating common goals it is important to remember that you are not looking to turn IT experts in to marketers or vice-versa, nor generalize roles. You need the experts in each category and they need each other to drive the best outcomes. It is helpful to frame the common goal around external customers. Enabling teams to be truly customer centric allows them to think beyond any constraints of their specific expertise or traditional role, and leverage a common language when working together.
Develop the collaboration environment and processes, collaboratively
Now that you have the best practices from the natural collaborators and identified common goals, it is time to more formally establish collaboration programs. While simply telling teams they must collaborate may work on the surface, it will not be effective. Often directive collaborations will turn into weekly meetings where the only reason to be there is to be able to state they did so in their performance reviews. Time wasted! Instead, look for opportunities to involve your teams and have them collaborate to build the environment and processes needed to evolve the culture. With the shared goal in place, brainstorming sessions for new ideas or problem solving can be cross-functional. Team meetings can host special guests to present broader strategies and successes from partner departments. Allow team members to live a day in the others shoes through job shadowing and look for shared team building opportunities to bring them together.
Creating effective collaboration is not about integrating the departments. Technology roadmaps and marketing calendars do not necessarily need to become one master process that is so large and cumbersome it slows progress to a halt. Rather, it is about creating shared goals, accountability and a respect for the impact of actions and changes to other teams and broaders strategic programs. By leading by example on customer centric goals, leaders of financial institutions can foster effective collaborative environments that will drive differentiating outcomes and results. How do you drive collaboration? We’d love to hear! Share your thoughts by getting in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.