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Companies urged to align marketing and IT departments

Caroline Baldwin

IT and marketing departments must work better together to maximise the impact of campaigns, especially those involving social media, according to research.

The latest Social Media Revenues Forecast report from analyst Gartner suggests that social media revenue worldwide is expected to reach $34bn by 2016, up from $12bn in 2011 - but the disparity between IT and marketing roles will hinder business success in this area.

“IT and marketing departments are the classic 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus',” said Jenny Sussin, senior research analyst at Gartner. 

“IT is very focused on procedure, and marketing is very focused on vision. Since marketers are used to communicating with marketers, and IT professionals are used to communicating with IT professionals, neither recognises they need to learn the translation to maximise their impact on the overall organisation." 

Problems can arise when lack of communication prevents turning marketing concepts into reality, mainly because marketers do not know what is needed from IT.

However, Gartner research director Adam Sarner believes cooperation is starting to happen.

“Both parties need to prove they are providing measurable business value in their organisation,” he said. 

“And both are under pressure not to be looked at as a cost centre, but that they are contributing directly to the bottom line of a company - so alignment is happening.”

Other findings from the Gartner forecast stated that advertising would remain the largest contributor to social media revenue, increasing from $6.5bn in 2011 to $18bn in 2016, but its contribution will decrease marginally from 55% in 2011 to 54% in 2016.

Social gaming revenue more than doubled between 2010 and 2011, and by 2016, gaming revenue is expected see an average of 18% growth, while its contribution to total revenue will decrease from 34% to 28%.

Lisa Myers, CEO of SEO and social media agency Verve Search, said very few IT departments are involved in marketing campaigns from inception, which can be detrimental to success.

“If you involved the IT department at the start, you market a better campaign, and rely less on social media agencies. The expertise you have in house between the marketing and IT departments can make a social media campaign very successful. IT departments are only involved at the very end of campaigns - when it’s too late. If it's up to the marketing department, they are literally involved when they have to," she said.

“It’s not the idea, but how it is planned. You need to think about the process, which needs the IT departments. Making that idea go viral is all down to the implantation of the campaign.”

A study by Easynet and Ipanema Technologies, found that European CIOs are shunning social media within the workplace, leading to ineffective marketing strategies and demotivating staff. Nearly 70% of  European CIOs and IT Directors block Facebook, 60% block YouTube, 49% block Twitter and 56% block all online video.


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