Why Digital Marketing Professionals should always work alongside IT

By: Chris Middleton

September 26, 2016

Categories:

Data Marketing - Featured -

Mobile and cloud technologies are a boon to marketers, offering the ability to automate repetitive tasks, gain deep insights into multi- or omni-channel commerce, enjoy a more flexible working environment, enhance productivity, and more.

These advantages leave marketing professionals – and their colleagues in other departments – free to use their skills and imaginations, collaborate, and win new customers.

So it’s tempting for marketers to mix and match their own technology choices. Simply download a few apps, sign up to a cloud service, share your contacts with your team, copy customer data onto your phone, and you’re sorted. Right? After all, your customers use a lot of the same platforms…

But there’s a downside to any ‘free for all’ technology culture and to this blurring of the divisions between consumer and business technologies, and between work and personal devices. That’s the growth of ‘shadow IT’ – tech decisions made without the IT department’s support or oversight – thanks to the same self-service culture that ‘the cloud’ promises.

A recent IDC survey of 300 US-based marketing professionals found that marketers who worked with their IT departments early were much happier with their technologies than those who worked with IT later, or not at all.

The conclusion was simple: mixing and matching your own tech choices without support from IT doesn’t guarantee a happy outcome – in many cases, quite the reverse. Work with IT, and you’re far more likely to have a productive relationship with the technology you use, such as marketing automation tools and CRM suites.

The point is that there are real risks for marketing professionals in flying solo or taking the self-service route. In a world of increased data protection regulations and severe financial penalties for breaches, the DIY aspect of the cloud threatens IT professionals’ ability to manage the estate for which they’re legally responsible.

In short, if marketers take too many DIY risks with their technology choices and customer/prospect data, they could land their brand, and its IT department, in big trouble.

There are dangers in mobility and device portability, too. As more and more employees access, copy, and/or store corporate data on their own phones, shared drives, collaboration platforms, group messaging apps, and USB sticks – data risks leaking out. Recent research has found that 62 per cent of organisations believe they’re susceptible to these types of insider breaches.

This is particularly true if – as many marketers do – people use their own cloud accounts to store customer or prospect information, email it to themselves, or use public Dropbox, Box, or other cloud collaboration/storage platforms informally, so that they can work outside the office. Many personal Dropbox accounts, for example, may be linked with friends or other networks.

Others may accidentally send out sensitive information – directly, by not deleting an attachment, or by reusing an old email to send a new one. (This problem is far more commonplace than most professionals realise: a massive 74 per cent of employees have sent unauthorised information to a third party, according to a recent survey.)

Most don’t know what the financial cost might be to the organisation, or the legal ramifications and the effects on their employer’s reputation.

There are other temptations, too. For example, login details have real commercial value. Research finds that 25 per cent of employees would sell their credentials for the price of the weekly shop: extraordinary.

In today’s more flexible working culture, employees may move from job to job more quickly, too, while others may be tempted to copy contacts, sales information, and more – either for personal gain, or as an ‘insurance policy’ if they leave the organisation, go freelance, or work for a competitor.

Stories of people copying entire databases on the last day of work or before handing in their resignations are familiar in most companies. Research finds that up to 75 per cent of people admit to stealing company data of some sort before leaving their jobs.

Let’s sum up those statistics: three-quarters of employees would steal some sort of company data, given half a chance, and the same percentage has sent confidential data – either accidentally or deliberately – to an unauthorised third party. Meanwhile, one-quarter of employees would sell their logins for cash.

So, marketing professionals: beware of thinking that you always know best. You know your customers better than anyone, but it really is best to leave technology choices, data security, and policy enforcement to your IT colleagues.

Work with them in the same collaborative spirit that the technology promises – unless you want your brand in the press for all the wrong reasons!