Geopolitics for the Web: The Uneasy Alliance Between Marketing and IT #heweb11

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Photo by hellolapalme, Flickr.

You know the drill. You’re in marketing and you’re ready to kill the IT guy. The IT guy has been making voodoo dolls of the content writer for two years and don’t even get me started on that bleeping code guy who wouldn’t know his head from a …..

Sorry. Got carried away there.

But you get the idea. Detente in the web world can be hard to find. But Seattle University’s Jason Beard and the University of Washington’s Chris Heiland think they’ve noticed some thawing in the geopolitics of the office. An “uneasy alliance” they called it. They detailed some of their experiences and the findings of a survey they conducted before a packed room at HighEdWeb11.

Among their interesting findings: the website is clearly no longer just the domain of the IT department. Only 5 percent of 120 people who responded said their school’s department handled all aspects of their institution’s site. Back-end development still belongs to IT though, 53 percent of responders said that was IT’s doman. But then things get murky. More than 34 percent of responders said “it’s complicated” when asked who was responsible for content on their school’s site.

The pair laid out a strategy for building a stronger alliance between your IT and marketing departments.

1) Communicate

Speak each other’s language, they said. Listen to what one another has to say and don’t assume you know everything. Meet early and often, even if there’s nothing to talk about so you get to know each other better.

“Developers think differently than designers, designers think differently than writers and the VP thinks differently than everyone,” Heiland said.

“You need to know whether to bring coffee to the meeting or mountain Dew or both,” Beard said.

2) Adapt

Heiland talked about a job where their first content management system was “Dreamweaver, Notepad, and FTP.” You have to deal with what you have, but you also have to advocate for more.  But whatever you do, change, investigate what works and what doesn’t. It helps your operations grow.

“It’s a gigantic coral reef with hundreds of layers, many of which are dead. Enhance what is living and strip away the rest,” one survey respondent said.

Web folks are good at adapting the two pointed out. And while survey respondents said they craved more resources, “we’re probably all doing a little better than we let on,” Beard said.

3) Create Experts

Don’t try to do everything yourself because you can’t. You need to rely on others to get your work done. Work with people so they can help you. Train others if and when you need to do so.

“You can’t do everything, but you can provide support so that you have people on campus that can do better,” Heiland said.

4) Get Buy-In

The survey found a strong correlation between centralization of services at schools and success. But that also means you need people to want to help in what you’re doing. Make sure you have the support to do the things you need. Otherwise your efforts face an uphill climb.