As the pace of digital evolution quickens, marketing’s relationship with the IT department has taken on a greater importance. If a company is to place innovation at the heart of a traditional business, it requires a common language and process, says Ann Ystén.
We live in a world of innovation. A world where brands like Uber and Airbnb can appear, seemingly out of nowhere, to transform their sectors.
This explains why we need innovation at the heart of our efforts to work with our partners and clients, both to protect existing brands but also to help grow them.
As an industry, however, too many of us haven’t grasped the need to change what’s required to respond to the innovation culture challenge that start-ups have embraced.
Too many agencies rely on linear processes, while too many clients still operate in siloes and different departments don’t talk to each other.
To build an innovation culture in an established company is, of course, not easy. Marketers often get nervous when they have to talk to IT and vice versa. The lack of a common language combined with processes that don’t align or encourage inter-departmental engagement, all add to the reluctance to join the dots that draw the real picture of opportunity.
“Marketing often wants to keep a tight grip on what it sees as its own area of expertise”
I’ve worked extensively on the client side during my career, I know that many brands go to their traditional agency to develop a concept, even before they talk to the rest of their company about a campaign. Marketing often wants to keep a tight grip on what it sees as its own area of expertise.
The traditional approach has been to develop a campaign before the digital team gets briefed to produce ‘a bit of fun’, leading to masses of missed opportunities.
The good news is that there are some attempts to bridge the divide. I recently attended an event designed to celebrate the fact that IT is the marketing manager’s new best friend. It bought together CIOs and CMOs to discuss, among other things, how to avoid friction between their respective departments.
Successful organisations need to champion cooperation between IT and marketing, because so much of today’s marketing requires IT to have substantial meaning When these departments, and others such as production and e-commerce, work together better results are delivered.
The first step down this path is often via projects that can showcase the power of cross-company working, moderated by an outsider – the agency. Outside intervention is important to drive collaboration even where the individual departments have significant digital expertise in their own fields.
Making innovation happen requires all parties to be round the table at the outset, opening up doors to new solutions that might lead to new creative concepts and even new products or approaches.
This is not just about creating better marketing or advertising, it’s about seeing the potential of everyone’s skill set to contribute to smarter innovations, which might not be an advertising or marketing solution.
The added benefit is that it gives different departments the confidence to work together and understand each other’s viewpoint – and learn a common language.
Today all businesses need to put innovation at the heart of what they do, in the same way that start-ups do.
Making this change is about a shift in perspective that gets everyone thinking together about the opportunities in their channels right from the start. Even in the most financially-siloed companies it is possible to create a proposal that can command resources.
If you work for a brand that is simply re-allocating marketing budgets from TV and spending it on digital, then you are at risk of losing the right to operate in the digital age.
Solving old problems in new and innovative ways is the only route to survival.