IT and marketing budgets: a clarification

Last week, I made a rather revolutionary statement that communications should be taken out of marketing as a responsibility and put into IT.  There's a simple reason for this leap of logic and it is tied up nicely by Willy Sutton's reason for why he robbed banks.

"Because that's where the money is."

In a perfect world, marketing needs to control communications and messaging.  The process of hearing from the market and translating into what engineering and sales needs is the traditional way of life in business.  And when you are selling laundry detergent, that is the way it is.  But in the tech world, life is not perfect.  In the tech world, marketing budgets are being slashed.  People who understand communications theory are being replaced by engineers who understand, well, engineering.  These are the same people who say that engineers are "immune to marketing" so why do we even need marketing. And yet, they still want the inflow of information from the market to properly establish messages and develop product.  

It's a Catch-22 scenario.  They don't want to fund the process to get the information, but they don't want to stop the flow of information.  Ten years ago, it was actually possible to get exactly that.  Big companies were funding analysis and media, providing small start-ups with all the market data they needed.  When things got tight, they could always cut marketing budgets and still gather market information, virtually for free.  And using basic publicity techniques, they could send out their messaging for very little investment.

But now, the free lunch is over.  Big companies are funding their own market research and keeping it all for themselves.  There is not enough media and information available for free to get a clear view of what the market is saying.  Sales are dropping and companies are investing less and less in the marketing process.

But they are gearing up their IT budgets.  Better websites, blogs, video, social media bells and whistles.  The problem is, they don't have anyone in IT OR marketing left who can ask the right question about what kind of information they need to gather and the marketing departments are not getting any more budget to get that information.

As I said, in a perfect world, communications is a marketing function, but we live in an imperfect world.  For marketers ... and even CEOs looking for where to get the budget to get the answers they need to succeed, IT might be looking you in the face (apologies for the visual pun).