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Latest Issue: Nov/Dec 2018

Who really runs your website - Marketing or IT?

It’s a hot debate: who should take overall responsibility for a website, the marketing team or the IT department? Both have different viewpoints and goals, which can often cause conflict.

Marketing are drivers of innovation, generating new customers and implementing new strategies to update a website and keep ahead of their competitors. This can conflict with the role of IT, which is responsible for maintaining security, efficiency and the technical integrity of the website.

These opposing interests can easily clash. Marketing’s role is crucial – they have to generate new customers and keeping existing customers returning, so a marketing department will have growth and change at the centre of their strategy. They will want the website to feature up-to-the-minute designs that appeal to customers, and they will want continual improvements to functionality to increase conversions. This may be opposed by IT, however, as introducing new systems and changing functionality or design uses valuable resources and time and, more seriously, can pose risks to a site’s stability.

The IT team’s focus is to maintain a site's stability, security and efficiency. If a website should stop functioning due to a software upgrade, say a new design or a technology enhancement, sales may be lost, but perhaps more importantly, there could a risk of a security breach.

Guarding against anything that could interrupt online trading or introduce a business risk, will be the top priorities for an IT team, so they will want to be intimately involved in technical choices regarding a website. They will recognise any changes that could negatively impact on business operations. They are also expected to fix issues when things go wrong, so they will want to be fully aware of changes from the start, so they can advise from the outset.

e-Commerce is very similar to a bricks and mortar shop in that online businesses also have the equivalent of store staff who woo new customers and increase sales, highlighting special offers and pushing last-minute sales near the checkouts. They also have different personnel who oversee security and manage stock levels. E-business is the same - if both can work together and implement efficient processes, the business can push business forward and grow, as well as ensuring good customer service.

The foundation of a successful eCommerce strategy

Any business with an online presence needs solid hosting. It is the server where the site is hosted that determines response times, and performance can in turn impact the number of conversions or sales. If a customer finds a site too slow, they may just look elsewhere. Site speeds also affect search engine optimisation - the faster a site loads the higher it is likely to appear in Google rankings. Google made this a ranking factor for the desktop in 2010, but since July 2018 it has been rating mobile sites by speed as well. Speed and SEO will be top priorities for a marketing department, so effective hosting is crucially important.

This is where sites hosted in-house by an IT department can fall short - there can be limitations to performance and as most only have 9 to 5 support there is no one to react immediately to any issues out of hours. Websites being used globally can experience an outage in another time zone, and an external hosting company will be able to provide a fix at any time.

Most e-businesses use an external provider that offers hosting with 24/7 support. The provider can react immediately if a support issue should arise, and prevent lost sales and the wider implications on SEO and security, which increase if an issue is not resolved quickly. So having a really good external hosting provider is one way to avoid conflicts of interest and help to keep marketing and IT teams working together successfully. Marketing can rest assured there is a team dedicated to restoring the site if there are any outages, while the IT team can be satisfied that the website’s security isn’t at risk if the site is down outside of business hours. Both teams share responsibility for a business’s website, so they should work with each other with marketing innovating and improving the customer experience and IT taking responsibility for stability and security.

by Jacob Colton, Catalyst2 Services