Why IT should report to Marketing

Robin Coles, Product and Technology Lead at HSO, explains why marketing is best placed to connect the dots on the omni-channel customer journey.

A retailer’s marketing department arranges promotional shoots, designs window displays and produces creative brand-focussed literature. So aren’t they a team of creative, flowery types who really don’t understand computers, applications and service levels?

Surely IT should leave them to get on with their creative thoughts, as they don’t play a true operational role in the business. After all, IT reports to finance, a natural home for it; they use systems, they understand how computers work and they work with budgets and expected returns.

Well that may have been the case at one time, but the omni-channel journey is changing things.

Firstly, IT has become a service. Put simply, it’s a means to an end, one that is gauged by what value it brings and how it can support changing business processes to drive competitiveness. It’s increasingly the domain of consultants, not highly technical people.

Secondly, in the Omni-channel world retailers are realising that having different channel directors who report separately to the board is never going to deliver the experience demanded by today’s customers. Doing it that way creates division, with channels fighting for stock and recognition for sales, staff competing with each other for commission – and the consumer simply wanting to buy their goods and be treated the same way, whenever and wherever they shop.

Which brings us back to marketing. In today’s brand-focussed world, success is driven by content, by impression, by brand values, by customer experience and consistency – all disciplines driven by the marketing community. The customer journey across all channels has to provide consistent views of product, price, stock and orders, functionality that can only be driven by a professional approach to IT.

It’s clear that the role of the marketing director is to own the customer journey and provide the consistency that this dictates. In doing so, it’s also clear that IT delivers this and marketing is its natural home!

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