I own the technology, you own the content

Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept By lumaxart on flickr“I own the technology, you own the content”

Those eight words are shared every single day between an IT professional and a Marketing professional. Some conversation occurs and the CIO tells the CMO “I own the technology, you own the content”.

What the CIO means is fairly simple..and understandable too. The IT group ‘owns’ the technology. They ‘own’ the security and they ‘own’ the data.  That’s the fact of life…and, in fact, that’s the way it should be.   Does any marketing professional out there really want to find themselves at the center of a data breach like what’s been reported at Epsilon recently? I doubt it.

Let’s leave the ‘ownership’ of security, privacy, data and technology in the hands of the IT professionals where it belongs.  That’s their job…that’s their livelihood.

But…let’s make sure that ‘ownership’ doesn’t hinder the ability of the marketing group to do their job. Let’s make sure that the ‘ownership’ doesn’t mean ‘hands off’.

When a marketing professional hears “I own the technology, you own the content”, what they’re really hearing is “let me worry about how it is going to work, you just make it pretty and add the words“.  Now…nothing wrong with that, per se, but I can tell from my many years of working within Marketing teams/groups, that the comment is pretty condescending.

Why condescending? Simple….it makes it seem like a marketing professional can’t understand technology. It also makes it clear that they aren’t capable of managing technology nor should they try.

For you IT pro’s out there…think of it this way:

How would you feel if you were told by the marketing team that you could no longer write your own emails?  You own the technology, Marketing owns the content…right?  From now on…you can only open your email message but you cannot type anything….you’ve got to wait for the marketing team to add your new email text to their busy schedule. They’ll write it for you and once ‘approved’, you can hit ‘send’.

Pretty ridiculous, wouldn’t you say?   Maybe…but think about it. How long would you have to wait to get someone from your marketing team to write each email for you?  How much would that slow you down in your daily activities? It would slow you down quite a bit, no?

If your job depended on your responding to email – and we all know IT professionals spend a considerable amount of time in their email – wouldn’t you do whatever you need to do to get your email ‘typed’?  Maybe find an outside email writer? Maybe just do it yourself?

Sure…this is a silly way to look at things…but it really is a good example of what marketing professionals (and other non-IT professionals) put up with daily…they have a job to do and, if they can’t get their IT staff to help, they’ll look elsewhere (or do it themselves). While marketing waits for new features and functionality from IT, they may just be unable to do their job.  Perhaps they start looking for other approaches. Perhaps they start reaching out to cloud services to get their job done. Perhaps they start their own Shadow IT initiatives. Perhaps the marketing group outsources the entire marketing technology platform.

And it all starts with a simple, statement of “I own the technology, you own the content”.

Next time, rather than using “I” and “You” next time…how about using “we”?

How about changing the statement to be more along the lines of  “we’d love to help…let’s figure out how to put the right technology in place to meet your needs”…or ‘we have the technology in place, let’s figure out how to get the marketing team up to speed on using it”.

Marketing is much more than just throwing words on a webpage…there’s data, there’s video, there’s technology embedded in technology embedded in marketing.   Technology is enabling marketing, which is enabling more technology.  Get where I’m going here? (hint:  more technology = more opportunities for technology professionals)

Stop using ‘I’ and ‘You”.  Stop thinking in terms of “us” versus “them”….IT and marketing are linked at the hip these days so we better start thinking about ‘we’ more when talking to marketing.

Image Credit: Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept By lumaxart on flickr

  • http://www.crossingmarketingandit.com Elmer Boutin

    Did you and Julie Hunt collaborate on the timing of your posts today? Her’s is spot-on in line with yours: http://jhcblog.juliehuntconsulting.com/2011/03/it-marketing-innovation-through-collaboration-in-b2b-software-companies.html

    You are so right in your thoughts on this. Teamwork and collaboration is the key to success for any organization. If “we” can’t get beyond the “who’s more important” debate and start looking at it from the perspective that “we” are all on the same team our organizations are doomed to mediocrity and/or failure.

    Well done, Eric.

    • http://ericbrown.com Eric D. Brown

      Thanks Elmer.

      I did see Julie’s post earlier this week but had forgotten about it while writing this…I could have easily linked over. Wish i had now as she did me the honor of linking to me.

      Its definitely time to start making IT & Marketing work better together. BTW – nice blog you have…I’ve added it to my google reader :)

      • http://www.crossingmarketingandit.com Elmer Boutin

        I didn’t even catch that her post was from earlier this week – I just saw it in my Twitter stream this morning. She certainly has some great ideas; I love her “I’m a Hybrid” post from last year.

        Perhaps if enough of us keep talking it up we can get some momentum going in the right direction. I know a lot of people who are silently waiting for things to change.

        Thanks for adding me to your Google reader, too. I appreciate it very much.

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  • http://cuberules.com Scot Herrick

    You own the correct take on this issue, I own the admiration of you writing it.

    • http://ericbrown.com Eric D. Brown

      :) Thx Scot..love your comment!

  • http://www.quantmleap.com Shim Marom

    Eric, I’m not sure I share your sentiments on this issue. Before I go any further though, do you mind sharing the specific experience you’ve had/shared/witnessed that prompted you to write this post?

    Cheers, Shim.

    • http://ericbrown.com Eric D. Brown

      There’s not one single instance i can point to Shim…its been a career full of “I” and “you”.

      Would love to hear why you disagree with the premise that marketing and IT should work closer and better together..

      • http://www.quantmleap.com Shim Marom

        Ha, I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting that I disagree with the premise that marketing and IT should work closer and better together – that this is an excellent proposition is an obvious proposition.

        Clearly, as an organization, we all need to pull our weight to achieve a common vision. However, there are clear functional demarcations between IT and Marketing (with the obvious disclaimer that none is more important than the other). IT’s job IS to enable business processes while Marketing’s job is to utilise these enabling technologies for achieving their business objectives. I think the issue you refer to is the very fact that Marketing (and other non-IT departments) feel that they have no control of the speed and priority in which these enabling technologies get deployed. Marketing (as in your example) do not want to own the security of the organization’s data but they do want to have a say in what data is to be maintained, how it ought to be retrieved, how long it should be kept for, etc.

        So, in a roundabout way, I don’t have an issue with the “I” and “You” as at the functional level this is how sub units in organization execute their mission statements. The challenge for the “I” and the “You” to clearly understand the organization’s Commander’s Intent and make sure (specifically from the IT perspective) that whatever they do is in-line with the needs of the organization, and not what they think is needed.

        Makes sense?

        • http://ericbrown.com Eric D. Brown

          Yes. makes perfect sense Shim!

          I think we are in complete agreement when you say this

          “The challenge for the “I” and the “You” to clearly understand the organization’s Commander’s Intent and make sure (specifically from the IT perspective) that whatever they do is in-line with the needs of the organization, and not what they think is needed.”

          Perhaps i could have expanded on that more in my writing. Thanks!

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