Is there a marketing person leading the IT team?

Seth Godin is a well-known figure in technology marketing. And it’s no surprise that he thinks marketing is a pretty important function. Last month, he wrote a blog post with the same title as the one you’re reading right now. In it, he argues that marketing is more than advertising and the innate customer focus of marketers means they’re a good fit to lead IT teams.

Maybe Seth is being a little self-important here. I’m sure many IT teams would not be pleased to learn someone from marketing is being put in charge. But there’s something to Seth’s case.

I worked in marketing for two years. I don’t think I’d want to make a career of it, but I consider it valuable experience. Working in marketing gave me a lot of practice communicating concisely and effectively to audiences who might not want to listen to what I have to say. And it made me consider the optics of how actions and decisions may be received.

I’ve long believed that the best sysadmins and technical support people don’t come fro a strictly technical background. Knowledge of other business areas or even other academic domains gives a broad background for connecting with the customer as a fellow human. And successful IT leadership means being able to work with other parts of the organization and meet their needs.

So maybe IT teams don’t need a marketing person in charge. But it doesn’t hurt to think like a marketer sometimes.

One thought on “Is there a marketing person leading the IT team?

  1. I agree that the person who leads a project should know at least something about:
    * the area of competence of its users (if it is a service for lawyers, you should know something about how justice works and a lot about what lawyers do)
    * marketing

    But frankly, I believe that their main competences should be technical. It may not be mandatory, but think about it: how can you know that the code and the architecture are maintaineble and scalable, without solid technical knowledge? Will your wonderful fancy marketing-friendly interface be still responsive when your 20 users will be 20K? Will the time necessary for making changes increase over time? Will it be possible to switch to a microservice architecture (or do you understand that microservices won’t help your particular project) when you see that deploying changes has an unacceptable cost?

    This is not speculation. I saw these problems in CTOs that have a development background. I guess that having a project lead who doesn’t understand code architecture and infrastructure could lead to problems that, in the long term, can destroy a company.

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