Credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/cpaleytech/

Digital people are about to grow up in your company

Credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/cpaleytech/

Before you know it, Marketing will be dropped from Digital Marketing. The team best known for building websites and posting pictures of charity events on Instagram will soon be rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty of your company. The marketing/IT love child  is about to grow up.

Digital and marketing have played a synonymous dance since the website began. The rise of the internet unfolded a battle between IT and Marketing. IT were the only ones who knew what the hell HTML was, whilst Marketers were the only ones who realised hell could rise up if anyone actually looked at these creations.

The love child

And so the Digital Marketer was born. They had geeky technical expertise coupled with the personable art of communications. Marketing took them under their wing as they steered websites in the right direction. As innovations like marketing automation, mobile and social media increasingly started to smash traditional business techniques – digital marketers were usually the small few who understood what they were and how they could affect the bottom line.

Now the digital baby has grown up. They’re independent and have unexpectedly realised the power their unique skill set wields. They have the best of both worlds, an information technologist’s understanding of infrastructure and process and a marketer’s ability to communicate and persuade.

Perhaps it is this mixed upbringing that meant they are naturally able to bridge departmental silos, but I think the realisation that their art can make far reaching positive changes across their organisations.

As a people person I always strive to make meaningful connections in any direction possible. Confining myself to my immediate colleagues would have limited the impact that digital can have across an organisation and therefore the success of my projects. Knowing that the new website, Twitter account or podcast can affect the work of any department brings on an acute smugness: Yes, I am able to influence across parts of the organisation I never knew existed.

Surprise!

Kick started by social technology in particular, we are now witnessing the convergence of offline and online as well as our work and personal lives. Everyone in your office has been touched by social media in some way, from the maintenance man to the CEO. Digital or social activity has become part of our evolution and we’re reaching a tipping point where we don’t even realise we’re using these technologies. It’s just happens.

Unlike most human steps through history , digital innovation pretty much just appears. Email, Social, Mobile – we’ve adopted these new technologies in a minute fraction of time compared to how long it took man to invent flight through to landing on the moon. The thrust of these technologies upon us has meant some have lacked foundation – and the digital marketers who brought these under their wing were naive in terms of high level business structures and goals.

The rise of social media proves that digital people can no longer be forgotten in the marketing team or hired to simply tick a box. Now they have to provide a controlled infrastructure so an entire workforce can be empowered with social media. A company which doesn’t recognise the need for an autonomous digital department will see technologies like social media blossom, grow wild and then inevitably the weeds will come. Before long you’ll be pointlessly hacking down a overgrown mess in an attempt to emulate the garden of eden cultivated by your competitor over the fence.

There needs to be a digital person in your C-suite, unrestricted by the CMO. Their remit and team must be broadened and they have to understand your businesses’ structures and goals. It’s the only way they can smash the silos burdening your company and ensure the effort you’ve made raising them has all been worthwhile.