IT’s all about information & networking.
IT generally owns any and all technology initiatives. They’re responsible for the hardware on your desk, the internet and email, your phone, maybe even your mobile phone. They figure out how to connect everything and everyone within the organization and they keep information flowing through the organization 99.999% of the time.
When everything’s working seamlessly, executives question why they’re even needed. And when something breaks, they’ve got about 15 minutes to fix it before those executives are asking why they even have an IT department in the first place. It can be a lot like Sales and Marketing when you think about it.
Like Sales and Marketing, IT plays a critical role in keeping the lights on. With so much in common, you might wonder why IT often ends up being such a buzzkill when it comes to new MarTech initiatives. Aren’t they supposed to like new technology? Shouldn’t they appreciate the additional job security?
The Night’s Watch is watching out. It’s their job.
I have a friend who does infosec for a larger enterprise under constant attack. He can read any employee’s email—including executives. He can nuke and re-image any box in the company anywhere in the world—and he frequently does. A call from his team strikes fear into the heart of any employee who’s earned a conversation with them. They know they’re in trouble—and are about to lose everything saved on their computers.
He and his team are the watchers on the wall. They are the first line of defense, they have incredible responsibility, and they wield incredible power. Which is why you might be surprised to learn they regularly find themselves waiting for access to the latest and greatest tools and technologies being developed within the organization.
What’s funny is how, time and again, my friend manages to get his team hooked up via the backchannel. Even his own teammates are amazed at how he gets things done. That’s right. We’re going to talk about how to get buy-in from IT by learning how IT gets things done themselves.
Can I borrow your only $1000 tool to help a stranger?
Who you know is important. Who you know you can count on is even moreso.
Prior to working at LeadMD, I was an operations technician in one of the biggest data centers in the western half of the United States. I remember a time we had a new customer in the DC, there to oversee their first disaster recovery test. These folks were paying upwards of $50k/month to ensure effectively 100% availability of their data even if a hurricane wiped their company headquarters off the map. And there was a typo on their implementation plan.
Long story short—and severely de-jargoned—they had the wrong type of fiber optic cable run between their equipment and the test center. Without a specific, $1000+ piece of equipment—that you won’t find at Best Buy—their test was going to be canceled (at significant cost to them).
As it turned out, I had a pretty decent relationship with one of the only two other customers in the facility using the exact piece of equipment this customer needed. I called my contact and—get this—asked to borrow the only one he had on-site. When I explained why, he said he was happy to let us borrow the device and appreciated knowing how far we were willing to go to help a customer.
The test started on time and went off without a hitch.
Build your relationship with IT. You’re on the same team.
Anyone is going to resist a major change to their role and responsibilities if it’s thrust upon them without warning. No Sales or Marketing professional in their right mind reasonably thinks they can just walk into a CEO’s office with a contract and just get a signature right off the bat. We all know the relationship needs built first. We need to establish trust. We need to open strong lines of two-way communication. Getting buy-in from IT is no different.
You have to be willing to help others before they’re likely to be willing to help you. My infosec buddy gets the hookups for his team by taking a genuine interest in what those other teams are doing. He goes above and beyond the break room small talk. He answers their questions. He gives them a hand when they need one. And when they have neat, new tools available they think he might find useful, they bring him in for a demonstration and feedback. From there, it’s a relatively easy ask. “Guys. This would REALLY make a difference for my team. How can I get them access to this technology?”
It’s the same way I was able to borrow a $1000+ piece of networking equipment from a customer—an incredible risk, given they were unable to just flip a switch in the event of a disaster while I had it—in order to help a stranger with a $50,000 typo. Because I maintained a solid relationship with my contact, he saw my ask as being a sign of the lengths my team would go to help him if he was ever in a bind.
The Golden Rule is truly golden
Having worked in both departments, I am happy to confirm that, yes, IT does in fact enjoy getting their hands on new technology. Your latest tech stack prize is no exception. And, believe me, the job security piece is not lost on them.
But if you want IT’s blessing and buy-in, you need to bring them into the conversation early and leverage them as expert counsel. Remember, their #1 priority is ensuring everyone within the organization has reliable, secure access to company data on the network. By coming to them early, you gain access to a critical partner who can make or break the deal. Ambush them, and they’ll have the firewall up faster than you can click Reply All.
The trick to getting buy-in from IT on your MarTech initiatives is establishing an open, honest relationship with IT long before you need their approval. Show them you trust their experience and depend on their expertise in making sure the technology you use is the best possible solution. Include them early and watch as IT becomes a very powerful ally.