IT vs. marketing. Control vs. agility. Process vs. responsiveness. Just a few years ago, it was clear who owned a company’s technology: IT. They understood the technology, built it, paid for it, integrated it, and maintained and supported it.

But times are changing. Marketers are using more technology and demanding more from it. Many vendors now target marketing organizations as buying centers and develop technologies with marketing, not IT, in mind. The ownership and responsibility of technology is shifting, and the line is blurring between marketing and IT’s responsibilities.

In this blog post, I’ll be specifically discussing marketing and IT, but the discussion also applies to the relationship between sales and IT, including ownership of technologies like sales force automation platforms, sales asset management systems and other applications.

Technology ownership

Today, most B2B marketers are responsible for lead generation and qualification – something that used to clearly be sales’ duty. Because of the added responsibility, should we assume marketers want to become salespeople or be responsible for their quotas? Of course not. Needless to say, a relationship between sales and marketing exists, and interlock between marketing and sales is necessary for success.

In much the same way, marketers (whether they like it or not) are now responsible for purchasing, integrating, using and sometimes maintaining software – tasks that used to be the sole responsibility of IT. More marketing organizations are taking ownership and budget responsibility of marketing-specific technologies, and some have left their IT departments completely out of the picture – that is, until something goes wrong.

Imagine a marketing organization owning the company Web site and Web content management system, and even hiring its own Web developer. Everything is going smoothly, until the CMO begins demanding changes to the Web site and back-end data integrations that marketing cannot implement.  Enter IT.

But wait, IT had no part of the technology purchase decision or its rollout. The CIO is immersed in an enterprise resource planning implementation in Europe with no resources to spare, and there is no service-level agreement (SLA) in place detailing what level of support – if any – IT will provide. In this scenario, the CIO is under no obligation to assist marketing, and this poses a very real problem. But whose problem is it?

In fact, it’s both marketing and IT’s problem. There are aspects of technology (including migration, integration and customization, just to mention a few) that fall outside most marketing organizations’ skill sets. As the key stakeholder, marketing needs to provide input and guidance around the requirements and use cases that go into selecting the technology. Ideally, including IT in the planning and decision phase of technology purchases helps create an interlock that will benefit the enterprise in the long run.  In my example above, an SLA with IT that covers support, customization and development of applications and systems could have remedied the situation.