Who should be responsible for mobile: IT or marketing?

Daniel Joseph
By Daniel Joseph under Insights 03 May 2013

As businesses around the world rapidly pull together strategies to ‘go mobile’, the question of who should be in charge of the mobile channel continues to crop up. Should it be the responsibility of IT or Marketing? And whose budget is it anyway?

The winner won’t take it all

We encounter these questions an awful lot at The App Business and the simple answer based on our experience is that it is both departments’ business. IT needs to continue its successful journey from back-office cost-centre to be front-office customer-facing innovators, and mobile is one of the most powerful channels they have at their disposal. Meanwhile, marketing needs to continue to get increasingly ‘under the hood’, and take responsibility for understanding how mobile technology can work to engage customers effectively. Where organisations (or indeed individuals) get it wrong, is where the battle for mobile control is cast as a zero-sum game. The winners won’t take all. The winners will take shared responsibility.

IT’s top gripes with Marketing, and Marketing’s top gripes with IT

According to our review of the latest CIO and CMO surveys, there are four key barriers to successful IT / Marketing collaboration.

Here’s where IT get stuck with their Marketing counterparts:

And here’s where Marketing get stuck with IT:

Mobile turns up the heat

We’re not saying it’s always like this. But we are increasingly witnessing these tensions as a function of organisations’ desires to get mobile-first-fast. If you look at the ‘gripes’, they revolve around a key tension: Marketing’s greatest risk comes with falling behind the customer (and IT moves too slow). And IT’s greatest risk comes from rushing into the wrong technology (and Marketing moves too fast). ‘Mobile’ puts all of this under one big magnifying glass. Audiences are adopting mobile at lightening pace, but the technology landscape is far from settled.

So where do we go from here?

Marketing and IT make great mobile bed-fellows. The solution is to align the mobile investment strategy around both technology (IT) and customer (Marketing) risks, and this is only achievable via communication, context and collaboration. Join up the departments at an organisational level and talk; share domain-specific knowledge, in particular the ‘why’; and work together, day-to-day, to meet your common goals. Just looking at our most successful clients, they all have awesome CIO and CMO tag-teams up top. Both bring complimentary skills to the table and both understand that no hybrid role will replace either function anytime soon. In conclusion, the organisations that will successfully get mobile-first are those that update their internal structures for successful collaboration first. The losers will be those where IT and Marketing work around each other; because both functions will ultimately get it wrong.