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There's more disconnect between sales and marketing than between IT and marketing: Karthi Marshan

Ershad Kaleebullah | April 12, 2013
What are the two big challenges marketing faces today?

For example, take new debit card owners, who hand over both their cards and their passwords to strangers at an ATM, asking for help to withdraw cash. Social media could be like that--for new users--and those are the real risks to watch out for. In light of that, even from a marketing lens, I would not endorse gimmicks like exposing customers' bank account details on their social networking accounts. I think it's too early for that.

Do you believe that because IT is busy implementing solutions for operations, marketing is low on its priority list?

It is true that marketing stands way back in the IT queue. But rather than blame IT for it, I feel it is the CXO suite's job to throw light on the IT needs of marketing. Until there's executive buy-in for IT investments to support marketing goals, it will continue to be a low priority.

Having said that, marketing has historically not been a big consumer of IT services--but, according to Gartner and Forrester, that's changing. Also, technology is evolving so fast, that today we need minimal IT support to implement our solutions--only 20 percent of what was required five years ago.

Hence I feel, in marketing, we have to put in a lot of effort to stay abreast of cutting-edge technologies and ensure that IT effort is minimal. For example, with cloud services available for so many applications, the demands on IT teams have drastically reduced. Even the risks are reduced, since we can now host marketing applications at a safe distance from mission-critical ones, like core banking.

Is it then okay for marketing teams to bypass IT departments?

I think this adversarial characterization is neither accurate nor useful. I actually think the lines between discipline silos is fast blurring. After all, it is only when engineers with a marketing bent of mind populate Apple, Google,

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etcetera that we get such cool applications to play with, right?

Similarly, it is incumbent for marketing folks to bring a technology bent of mind to their tasks. And by that I mean a responsible technology bent of mind, if I may add.

An IT solution may be bolted together over a long weekend in response to a marketing director's whim and yet marketing folks will chafe at the bit about IT's speed of delivery. But the truth is that IT is actually being a caretaker, ensuring no one can break in, and once implemented the system doesn't break down.

Do you have any examples of great solutions that are possible when marketing and IT work in harmony?

Like I said, it's not just IT and marketing but other disciplines--like product, process, operations and service--that are required to work in tandem to roll out really impressive offerings. One example I could quote where all teams worked together to swiftly roll out a service which has become an integral part of our offering is our online account opening system for savings accounts and NRIs.


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