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How do you solve a problem like... integrating marketing and IT functions?

How can companies integrate marketing, sales and IT teams?

In this new opinion series, we ask readers of The Drum from brands, agencies and everything in between, for their advice on real problems facing today’s marketing practitioners.

Data collection and analysis – and the technology required for storage – are more important than ever before to marketers. But traditional corporate structures mean that they're often left out of the decision-making process when it comes to acquiring new technologies, or deciding how they get implemented.

It‘s an issue Sir Martin Sorrell said was ”absolutely critical” in a recent interview with The Drum, though he admitted: ”I don’t know how you do that, necessarily. I don’t think there is one solution.”

In the meantime, James Cannings, co-founder of MMT Digital, said tech procurement choices “have got to be a joint, combined decision” between stakeholders from marketing, sales and IT. David Ratajczak, who leads Boston Consulting Group’s marketing practice in North America, suggested businesses get the job done by ”creating a squad that can move rapidly and has both accountability and authority to move rapidly.”

But what do our readers think?

How do you solve a problem like... integrating marketing, sales and IT silos?

Jim Cavanaugh, vice-president, APJ, AppDynamics

As consumers shift more parts of their lives online, digital experiences start to impact purchase and loyalty decisions, perhaps even more so than advertisements or promotions. In AppDynamics’ App Attention Index 2019, we found that 66% of consumers avoid even trying a brand associated with poor digital services. The signal is clear: the virtual journey is just as, if not more important than real-life.

Beyond price or product, every point of interaction, be it an app or physical store should be a priority. To create consistently smooth and seamless experiences, businesses must break down silos by ensuring all departments have full visibility across their applications and are equipped with real-time data and relevant insights to make business decisions. Every team matters so achieving coordination and cooperation towards a common goal of maintaining flawless customer experience is critical.

William Grobel, director, Deloitte Digital

Business functions need to listen and orient around a shared goal, which is easier said than done. Listening means understanding the challenges, motivations and metrics of different teams and the individuals within them.

Identifying and working towards such a joint objective, which could be a campaign, customer type or a stage on the customer journey, will help create the joined-up human experiences customers expect. Data, process, technology and an aligned corporate purpose can each be used to bind these teams and bring siloed functions together.

Suzi Bentley-Tanner, strategy director, Engine Transformation

Responsibilities across IT, marketing and sales teams continue to blur; this raises the likelihood for tension between teams. In order to break down these barriers and siloes, we recommend that teams take an agile approach.

Rather than adopting agile methodologies wholesale, agile marketing embraces some of the core principles, including spinning up collaborative, multi-disciplined teams to solve challenges, being customer-focused, continuously improving, and being responsive to change. Teams who work together in this way benefit from improved team morale, more productive teams, alignment on business objectives, and higher quality outputs.

Winnie Palmer, chief marketing officer EMEA of Seismic Software

Breaking down internal silos between sales and marketing teams is the holy grail for enterprises. But, with employees working remotely, it’s harder than ever. The key is to centralise content management. Storing all content in a central repository gives sellers full visibility into the content being created by marketing, while also enabling them to collaborate in a unified end-to-end content strategy.

This must then be supplemented with engagement analytics, providing actionable buyer journey insights that empower sellers to deliver exceptional buyer experiences and equip marketers with the data needed to better support effective selling. The result: an efficient go-to-market process that drives business growth.

James Ray, chief executive officer of Armadillo

25 years ago, the differences between the IT and marketing departments defined my early career. I worked on Blockbuster (remember them?) and their growing customer database, newly designed to allow marketers access. But it sat with IT. My client and I decided to befriend IT, so we wandered down to sit with them, look them in the eye and gleaned what we could about the database.

Brands are bigger, departments broader and digital is now key. But, having someone outside the structure to act as a catalyst can still help to join up these departments; it certainly does with CRM which touches them all. If this concept could be scaled up, it could certainly help to bridge silos.

Anthony Magee, director of data and experience, Syzygy London

Most people think this is primarily an organisational challenge. It’s not. As we know from consumer behaviour, habitual action will only change for good when the mutual benefits of making the change is understood.

Think of it like the UK. The ideal is all countries work together toward a shared agenda, maintaining their autonomy within that. When there is no shared programme that benefits all, they seek greater independence. If a shared agenda which benefits all parties can be created for different business functions, teams can do their own thing within that framework. They play to their own strengths, but deliver – and succeed – together.

Any thoughts? Email me at sam.bradley@thedrum.com to be included in upcoming instalments of this series.

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