The Future of IT Organizations – why IT needs a marketing department

Some weeks ago we published a report called “The Future of IT Organizations“. This report talks about how to restructure IT Organizations, following the basic structure we propose for IT in the KuppingerCole IT Paradigm. That paradigm is first described in the KuppingerCole Scenario “Understanding IT Service and Security Management”. From our perspective, IT organizations have to change fundamentally in order to redefine the way we do IT to better deal with challenges like Cloud Computing.

When looking at the future of IT, there is one area which I find particularly interesting. Some of this came to my mind when reading one of the blog posts of Chuck Hollis, Global Marketing CTO of EMC Corporation. The blog post is titled “Why IT Groups will invest in Marketing” and is focused on the need for marketing.

What I liked in that post was the distinction of inbound and outbound marketing for IT – a distinction I picked up and I have to recognize Chuck for. I then aligned it with the KuppingerCole IT model, adding another element which is “product management”.

The IT of the Future is demand-driven. Today’s IT should be as well but reality frequently shows a different picture. Providing the services business really needs is very much about that demand-driven IT. That requires understanding the customers. And that is where the topics of Outbound and Inbound Marketing come into play.

Outbound Marketing is the more common approach. We all are familiar with this in everyday life when getting confronted with advertisements and other types of market communication from vendors. For IT Organizations there are two main aspects for Outbound Marketing:

  • Positioning IT as the one and only source of the services business requires
  • Selling the IT services which are produced on-premise as part of these business services
The first part is of high importance because IT should remain in control (or get back control) of all the IT services which are either produced on-premise or procured from the Cloud. Without centralized control organizations will, over time, struggle massively with their IT services. Furthermore, there is no way to get a grip on IT cost without such centralized control

The other part of outbound marketing is mandatory as well. The ability to sell the services which are produced on-premise is important. On-premise IT is in competition with cloud services. Thus it is not only about producing the “better” IT services; it is also about selling them. IT Organizations have to change their attitude from being reactive to becoming a proactive provider of services to the business organization.

But there is the other side of the coin as well. That is about Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing is even more about the customer’s need – with the customer being the business part of your organization. Inbound Marketing is (amongst other things) about

  • The specific needs of your customer
  • Identifying the buyers on the customer side (which even in large organizations frequently is not as clear as it should be when it comes to budget discussions)
  • Understanding how the customer wants to consume
It is about understanding the customer and driving the IT Organization in a way that the right services are offered. In fact this is about a strategic and standardized approach to providing exactly the services business needs.

From an organizational perspective, IT has to fundamentally change its interaction with business. It is about bringing the demand-supply principle to life, which has been discussed for quite a while. The need to do that is greater than ever.

What do IT organizations need at that level?

  • They need to identify the “customer’s customers”, e.g. the persons within the business organization who are requesting the business services. That might require changes in the business organization as well, given that the business needs contact points. Notably, these persons might be less technical than today, given that the ideal of the future IT organization is to provide business services the way business needs them.
  • They need, as mentioned earlier, IT Marketing, i.e. persons caring for the outbound as well as the inbound marketing.
  • They need “product managers”. If you look at large and successful vendors, product management always plays an important role. They are the link between the customer and software development. They have to translate between customer requirements and development. Sort of the same role applies to them here: They work closely with IT Marketing and the customer’s customers on one side and the Service Management within the IT Service & Security Management Layer to map these.
Simply said: IT Organizations in their changing role as suppliers to the demand of business should act like successful software organizations – with the difference that they don’t need that level of sales but more the marketing and product management parts.


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