When I.T. functions as a partner of the Marketing effort, they are in a unique position to deliver solutions and value beyond the software and equipment we can leverage. Vital information exist through-out the enterprise; accurate costing, details on customer interactions, pricing feedback, customer buying trends, accounts receivable data, delivery statistics, etc. all impact the ability to grow and maintain market share. The right decisions on technology platforms can make these types of information visible to key players in a multitude of formats and could deliver information to customers which could help them improve their business processes. Customer retention is about relationships and technology can be leveraged to strengthen the B2B and B2C relationship. The wrong decisions could leave you held hostage by vendors and 3rd party integration companies and your customers frustrated by slow response times.
Often the “great ideas” are there but the start up plan seems daunting. Due to advances in web technology and the prevalence of relational data base systems like SQL, smaller companies have the ability to outpace their larger competition, lead in search engine optimization (SEO), and distribute powerful information to their customers and sales teams. Navigating this sea of technology looks difficult, because of the fog of consultants, social media options, tablet and smart phone platforms and the limitations of existing systems. Open Source Code was often criticized, mostly by companies and developers that made a living on proprietary software models and trade secrets, so finding a navigator in the technology field could be as easy as reaching out to one of the tens of thousands, of individual developers, who made Open Source an integral part of enterprise computing. Smaller organizations are often the most innovative in leveraging new technologies and these companies and programmers pride themselves on delivering a solution that can then be managed after the project is over, by the business they are serving. They are not looking for ongoing retainers and software licensing fees. These resources are readily available, so smaller businesses can practically rent a project based IT department and Marketing department far less expensively than bringing on staff to fill the roles. Larger company’s can also take advantage of systems designed to be managed in house, eliminating the need for outside support staff and 3rd party hosting solutions.
The old adage “those who can’t, teach and those who really can’t, consult” is often true, so it’s best to reach out to those that are. Find businesses that are leveraging the new electronic media and ask about best practices, the developers they have used and the hurdles they have overcome. But most importantly realize that the future of sales and marketing is as much about information technology as it is about products and customer service.