“Digitization” is forcing organizations to rethink existing business models and functional relationships and harness their assets to achieve digital integration and transformation. The relationship between marketing and IT lies at the center of this challenge. Marketers often complain about insufficient support from IT, while IT complains about marketing departments moving ahead with new technologies without sufficient input from IT.
Here are two case studies of organizations that have found ways to address this relationship through collaboration.
Case Study 1: Hays Recruitment (UK)
In 2007, Hays Recruitment, a major UK recruitment company, set about launching a new internet and social media strategy. To guide it through this digital transformation, the company hired CEO Alaister Cox and CIO Steve Weston.
“At that point, the company had a technology strategy that hadn’t changed for 25 years,” recalls the CIO. “We were running software that wasn’t Internet enabled, and all our regions were all using different variants of that software.”
“We stepped back and said, we know that the Internet is going to change the way that we operate, but we don’t know how,” he explains. “So if we’re going to be successful in the future, we need to have an infrastructure that allows us to plug things in – without knowing what they are in advance.” He and CEO Cox were forced to rethink the company’s entire business model.
Hays set about replacing its entire stack of recruitment software to support open standards. He then installed a Google Search Appliance with its own custom interface to give the company’s recruitment consultants the ability to conduct complex searches to pin-point very specific candidates.
With the new IT infrastructure in place, Hays could focus on the marketing aspect of the company’s digital transformation. “Now we worry more about the user experience than the plumbing and infrastructure,” says the CIO. “The infrastructure to present the data and interact with our corporate systems is all there.”
Set on maximizing the customer experience, CIO Weston and his team partnered with the marketing department to rebuild its web and social presence and mobile strategy – all of which were made much simpler by the underlying IT transformation.
A centerpiece of Hays’ digital marketing strategy has been its integration with LinkedIn, allowing the company’s recruitment consultants to draw on candidates’ LinkedIn profiles for use in their assessments. “That gives us a richer dataset, with more complete data, and it’s more likely up-to-date as well,” notes Weston.
Beyond technology integration with LinkedIn, Hays developed a content marketing strategy, aiming to accumulate the highest possible number of “followers” on the site in order to attract new candidates to fresh job openings. It is now the 40th most followed company on LinkedIn, just ahead of Nike with – at time of writing – 259,000 followers. Moreover, Hays CEO, Alistair Cox, is among the top 150 “influencers” on the network.
CIO Weston concluded: “For me, digital leadership has to come from a marketing leverage point and a technology leverage point. I am working with a colleague who brings the marketing experience, but I am ultimately accountable for the whole programme.”
Case Study 2: Torys LLP (Canada)
The overarching strategy of Torys LLP, one of Canada’s most prestigious law firms, is to have a presence wherever their clients need them. Their clients are highly engaged on digital platforms, and the firm has responded by increasing client interaction while still maintaining the trust and client confidentiality that are hallmarks of the firm’s value proposition.
Torys was seeking a strategy that would set them apart from the competition. Market research found that Tory’s clients want their lawyers to understand the clients’ businesses and to work closely with them to solve problems or create business opportunities. Acting on this feedback, Torys has changed is business model from legal problem solver to strategic partner. “We now are trying to help clients anticipate what may happen and help them respond” according to Torys’ Managing Partner.
Successfully delivering on those priorities requires firms to encourage open and meaningful dialogue. “It is easier for clients to switch, so we now need to engage them in a business conversation and earn their loyalty,” said Director of Marketing and Business Development.
Torys challenge was to use digital technology to develop long-term, collaborative relationships with its clients. To do so, the firm needed collaborative solutions from its marketing and IT departments.
Torys’ marketing team developed three client-centric marketing priorities:
- Client retention/acquisition
- Reputation management
- Mining market data
IT is critical to all three priorities. Client retention and acquisition depends on digital solutions that develop a deep understanding of clients. To that end, Tories is developing a CRM solution that identifies the clients and potential clients whose relationships are important to the firm to deliver excellent service and manage resources effectively.
According to the Managing Partner, “the essence of our strategy is to be collaborative and to form deep, helpful and enduring relationships with clients. We try to understand their organization in its totality”.
Torys needs to proactively gather information about their clients’ organizations—including information that transcends individual business units – and then share that knowledge with multiple offices. To accomplish this, the firm has implemented a searchable client database with actionable intelligence that its lawyers can draw upon to enhance their understanding of their clients’ businesses. Torys is also piloting an enterprise social collaboration tool to foster collaboration between lawyers.
Torys reputation management has been facilitated through a strong online presence with regular website updates and enhancements. Third-party vendors have provided fresh perspectives.
At Torys a strong relationship between IT and marketing is critical. Their priorities are integrated; the teams keep each other fully informed of major projects; the yield is better and the results faster. Both have increasingly focused on how they can help the firm better understand and engage the client; this in turn has fostered closer collaboration with IT and Marketing, including a major client relationship management project.
Torys Director of Marketing suggested that “lawyers own their client relationships—and marketing serves as a connector to link data to decisions that inform those relationships.” The Director of IT builds his team by cross-training them be more effective in joint projects with marketing. Tory’s leadership recognizes that, in the digital age, marketing and IT priorities are often heavily interdependent; given this reality, deeper departmental integration yields better results faster.
Organizational change is not easy. However, as the case studies of Hays Recruitement and Torys bear out, it is becoming increasingly evident that marketing and IT departments need to work together to lead their companies down the Path to Digital Integration that ultimately leads to the Digitally Integrated Organization.
- What are some other challenges marketing and IT might face when working together to bring about organizational digital transformation?
- In many companies, marketing is taking a lead role in organizational digital transformation. Why is this so?