Human + Machine = Manifesto

For purposes of the post, Human is the Marketing department and Machine is the IT department. Manifesto is my rant. Nothing should be read into the terms. I have the highest regard and respect for IT and Marketing people (I am one) everywhere.

I attended Interwoven’s annual client summit, GearUp 2008, held in San Francisco April 22-24. Interwoven is a major player in the content management software space with over 4,200 customers in 60 countries. They develop enterprise strength solutions that help companies create, publish and archive all types of content.

A software application such as this has largely been the purview of the IT department. But Interwoven has been working to expand their offerings into a tool set suite in the hopes of transcending IT and engaging marketers, by allowing them to leverage content with increased relevancy. They are re-proclaiming that “content is king” and is the single most important asset firms have to influence brand consideration and purchase. With the explosion of online community and social networking this approach makes sense, and their extremely well run conference really got me thinking.

As a marketer myself, working in the Internet space, I rely heavily on my IT department to understand what I want to do in the online channel and then execute. We come at the world from very different mind sets, which sometimes makes communication challenging. I know the following dot points are oversimplified, but I believe they make my point.

  • IT works in machine code and Marketing works in human code
  • IT has build guidelines, Marketing has information architecture
  • IT writes code, Marketers employ goal-directed design
  • IT has an instruction set, Marketing uses personas

We have a great relationship with our IT team, but are always exploring ways to make it better and more effective. In my opinion a major point of convergence is in the offing.

  1. Companies should require regular strategic planning sessions that bring to the table the Internet solutions VP, the E-Business VP, the CIO and CMO. This will help the organization understand the breadth of what needs to get done from infrastructure to presentation layer, from database to targeting. These will be sobering conversations.
  2. CEOs should combine marketing and IT functions into one seamless high performance team. It will be required if firms want to accelerate the return on their already significant online investment and extend its effectiveness to drive business results.
  3. Get social or get served. This is a courage call. Think, smell, taste and breathe social (I know, duh). But not that many traditional companies are doing it for all the reasons we already know about. In order to get social, IT and Marketing must be one social team.
  4. Set up social tools for IT and Marketing to communicate and build their unique community. If given the chance and mandate, they will find common ground. Actually I worry less about the traditional marketing areas getting clued in, as their activities will continue to get more expensive and eventually will serve to support the richer interactive channels.

It’s all about having system(s) flexible enough to be both a marketing and servicing platform. Then it’s about the teams working to connect these systems in an online ecosphere. There are very big things looming on the horizon and companies that have not set-up their infrastructure and organizations to be more agile, will not grow. Or worse, they will be overtaken by competitors who are able to do this.

Now back to the Interwoven GearUp summit. Guy Kawasaki was a keynote speaker, tackling The Art of Agile Development. Guy is now a venture capitalist, but spent several years at Apple Computer in the late ‘90’s as their software evangelist, trying to get more coders to produce products for the Macintosh operating system. I first met Guy in 1996 in Chicago. He was on one of his road shows for Apple and spoke at the Chicago Public Library. He was engaging, funny and smart, and it appears that some 12 years later, none of that has changed. Guy knows the marketing speak, but he exposes the long held marketing doublespeak for what it is, and that rings true to IT. This is an important clue to getting the two teams on the same page.

You have to see Guy in person to really appreciate what he is saying. My notes can’t do that, so I won’t even try. I don’t have the slide deck presented at the summit, but this one is very close. Catch him live if you can. If you can’t visit Guy’s blog is here.

More to come.

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