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Marketing has a bad reputation amongst practitioners. We’ve all wished for the “execute” button in PowerPoint – which makes the impossible promises on the slides from Marketing “just work”.
This is a bit unfair to Marketing generally. Most people in marketing are professionals who doubtless also tell stories about IT professionals who built what was easy to code rather than what the business asked for.
And marketing is something that IT professionals should be aware of. There is little point in being right if you can’t market your ideas to your managers – and to the business that ultimately pays your wages.
What is Marketing then? Well, “Marketing refers to activities a company undertakes to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses” [what is marketing?]. Translate this into an IT context and we might say that “IT Group marketing refers to activities the IT group undertakes to promote the adoption of its services by the business it works for”. Marketing includes telling the stakeholders in a business what IT services can do for them, managing expectations (it doesn’t include lying about what you can deliver) and delivering services according to the reasonable expectations of the business.
It’s really about communication and about both IT and all the stakeholders in the business working together to deliver better business outcomes – the Future of Work. If IT professionals don’t market themselves effectively, internally, they will soon be replaced by outside consultants who can (by the nature of their business model) market themselves extremely effectively to the business (sometimes, even if the ultimate product falls short of their promises).
I was encouraged in these thoughts by reading about Elena Shevchenko’s keynote for the forthcoming 2021 BCS Service Management and IT Asset Management SG (BCS SM-ITAM Specialist Group) conference. It says: “Digital Marketing has earned a somewhat bad reputation for invading digital privacy and other “annoying” practices. Though this reputation is partially well-deserved, digital marketing activities are not limited to advertising and spam e-mails. With the focus on the customers’ needs, wants, and interests, the marketing function penetrates all the client-facing and product design roles in a modern organisation and is highly relevant to service management in IT. Elena shares some ideas and recent developments from digital marketing research that BCS SM-ITAM specialists might find useful in her keynote presentation”.
Elena Shevchenko is a digital marketing researcher and educator with a special interest in online consumer engagement, and digital technology adoption in marketing. She has been teaching a range of marketing and business communication courses for universities in Dubai and the UK. Before moving into academia, Elena worked as a marketing professional in hospitality and higher education in Dubai.
Her view of marketing appears to fit rather well with Bloor’s idea that all stakeholders should be involved in generating automated business outcomes for the mutable business – even marketing. If you are building a new technology deliverable which does things no one else can do, it might be worthwhile telling the marketing department about it early on, at the design stage; quite apart from also marketing your IT services internally.
Of course, any marketing should be honest and realistic, whether internal or external. But good marketing, effective in the longer term and producing lasting relationships, always is. I hope…
The BCS SM-ITAM conference is being held over three days, from Tuesday 19 October to Thursday 21 October, with three sessions each day at 10:00, 14:00 and 18:30 BST. It will be a virtual conference again this year – hopefully, F2F events will return in the New Year. You can sign up for this conference here.