I have been a marketing professional in the field of IT for 13 years, and I am fairly comfortable with the material. I have to be, because in Marketing it is necessary to know a product, whether a solution will be effective or not, and what the added value for a business is.
I may know what an OTAP is, understand why you should get rid of legacy software, know what technical debt is, understand that the GDPR compliancy is bigger then the IT department, and that there is such a thing as a white-hat hacker. However, I don't posses any technical knowledge. I was even regularly invited to test something for my IT colleagues because I am such a “typical user”. I know this is not a compliment. But since I am always open to change, and curious about any technology that might improve my productivity and efficiency, I always was an eager participant.
Fragmented IT Knowledge at a Discussion
A knowledge gap such as mine is pretty frustrating for a marketeer (and her IT colleagues). Marketing is - like almost any field these days – impossible without IT and this is clear in every task. It is common to partner with IT colleagues on projects. Collaboration may occur with colleagues at your own company, as well as IT staff from the provider. For instance, when implementing a new system.
I do participate in discussions with my limited and somewhat fragmented IT knowledge and this can frustrate a process. Imagine learning the consequences of software application integration in Project A, and then discovering that not all companies think it is self-evident for integration to happen in real time... When you're sitting around the table to decide on a new software solution for your call center, these matters need to be brought to light quickly.
A Tsunami of Technical Reasons
This is another reason I miss having technical knowledge. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by a tsunami of technical information when I ask a practical question such as: Could we make this information appear here as well as there? Sometimes these are arguments stating why something is not possible, but often it comes down to choices that must be made. Of course, these choices have consequenses. In the course of many years I have learned to ask lots of questions and summarize my thoughts under such conditions to make sure I am on the right track. But better technical knowledge would be very helpful in this situation. It prevents lack of clarity and avoids miscommunication.
I am sure I'm not the only one in a company that is making descissions or joining discussions without clear oversight. Many executives have the same experiences. For instance, IT often falls under the Finance Department, and the 'business' is rather good at expressing their wishes, but does not always at understand the consequences for their IT Department. The same also applies to many Project Managers, including those who work for solution providers. In other words, many decisions are made without the basic knowledge necessary to make them.
Time for a Change
I believe it is time for the IT emancipation of non-IT employees. Make sure your knowledge of IT is up to par when you make IT-related decisions. Only then are you able to make the best possible contribution to business results.