Like that slightly awkward first date you had last week, marketing and IT don’t always have much to talk about. But as more and more IT projects sit in marketing’s domain, it’s becoming increasingly important for the two to lean on each other. Marketing teams today have more software than they know what to do with – one look at Scott Brinker’s latest graphic of the marketing technology landscape will make that clear. And for better or for worse, this is just the beginning; we expect technology spend by CMOs to increase 10x in the next ten years from $12 billion to $120 billion. (Foundation Capital) But after your CMO signs the check and the shiny new software is made available to your marketing team, it’s often unclear whose job it is to make sure people are actually using it.

Image courtesy of Foundation Capital

It’s not enough to purchase the software and expect the magic to happen. To get the most out of their new software purchase, marketing executives must treat them as periods of organizational change that deserve their own programs to drive adoption, collaboration, and advocacy. It’s a larger organizational priority to treat new software installations as managerial challenges rather than simply technical ones.

We found three lessons for marketing executives to help ease the transition to a new software, from none other than Percolate’s IT department.

  1. Treat new software deployments as a customer journey, not a one-time installation
  2. Treat IT as internal customer support
  3. Choose the software your employees already know how to use

1. Treat new software deployments as a customer journey, not a one-time installation

“Executives need to stop looking at IT projects as technology installations and start looking at them as periods of organizational change that they have a responsibility to manage.”  – Andrew McAfee, MIT-Sloan School of Management

In 2002, when a Boston hospital set up an IT system to replace handwritten prescriptions with online orders, it didn’t account for the resistance it would face from the system’s users: the doctors. The doctors complained that the computer-based process — designed to check prescriptions for harmful doses or drug interactions — was slower and less convenient, preventing the system from being rolled out across the hospital. What the hospital administration got wrong was failing to see the IT deployment as an entire program, not a one-time effort, and assuming their employees would adopt the software.

The first step of any successful tech deployment journey often starts with the employees themselves. If you don’t provide them a good solution, they’ll probably just go start using something on their own. The cloud centric world makes that all too easy for them to do. Be the IT department your employees view as the group who helps them solve their problems. So think of employees using the system as new customers, and move them along the journey from “purchase” (or in this case, deployment) to adoption and finally toward becoming advocates of the product. We recently made the switch from managing team projects in Asana to doing it all in Percolate. One thing that helped the transition was having internal advocates of the tool like our marketing team, who spearheaded the switch by moving their projects over to Percolate’s Task Management and gently reminding other departments to make all requests for design tasks using the new process. Now, all of our content, social, and event marketing campaigns are briefed and executed on from within Percolate.

2. Treat IT as internal customer support

“I think if you don’t treat your internal employees the same way you’d treat your customers, you’re missing something”. – Kyle Jackson, Percolate Director of IT and Customer Support

It isn’t a random coincidence that our IT department and customer support team are run by the same person — we realized that our product philosophy, specifically how we manage user interactions with Percolate, could gain from our internal approach to IT. And adopting the same proactive attitude towards our employees as we do with everyday users of our product allows us to save time that would otherwise be spent crafting entirely new processes. This is true for every administrative role in a company that serves the employees in any fashion — if HR, Facilities, and Finance operated much like this, you’d have a far more streamlined, efficient business. Marketing can realize greater value from its software purchase if it worked with IT to manage change and transition processes to the new platform.

3. Choose the software your employees already know how to use

You wouldn’t say, let me go buy an enterprise car. You don’t get an enterprise pen to write with.” – Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

Cook highlights a tectonic shift in the tech world that’s happening unbeknownst to us. To his point, you don’t buy a hideous but functional version of a car just for business use. The lines between enterprise tech and consumer tech have been blurred by companies like Apple, because the things that make their products good for business are the same things that make them consumer-friendly.

onboarding

SaaS apps have changed IT to the point that new companies are in a place where they can start out without legacy on-premise software — they just adopt software their employees want to, or already know how to use. This is why Apple just has iOS and OS-X and not ‘Business and Business Professional’ like Microsoft.

As the lines between home and office, work and life get increasingly blurry in a global, digital economy, we’re coming to expect more from the technologies we use at work. And for marketers specifically, the hallmark of great technology is its ability to automate the mundane, non-cognitive work and make more room for creativity. Before your next software purchase, consider working with IT to determine how you can clear the path for a smooth deployment  — and learn from each others’ processes.