Why are business websites run by IT departments?

A friend told me about a month ago that his company’s B2B website is not fully optimized because the company CEO gave a directive not to spend too much money on developing it. I assume the CEO does not believe that the website can served as a key business development and communication tool. Interestingly, this company does a sizeable amount of business in various geographies and buys the bulk of its material from the east!

Accountability vs Responsibility?

Accountability vs Responsibility?

My background is traditional brand development and marketing. I have over 15 years of extensive branding experience that I proudly amassed working on some of the best-known brands in the food and beverage and financial services markets in my home country, South Africa.

I am giving you my employment background as it is key to the topic at hand, and also because this is my first article and I want to set the context for general themes that will form part of this blog going forward.

It has been my experience through the years that responsibility (and I might add accountability in a lot of these cases) for setting up and managing business websites has largely been left with companies’ IT departments. The techies have been the ones dictating everything to do with design, architecture and content relating to business websites. Until 2 years ago, I saw no problem with this as I perceived the Internet channel to be so-technology driven that I was happy that it be left to the experts.

I realized only late in my corporate life that responsibility and accountability are being confused by corporate decision makers when it comes to the Internet. While I agree that IT should be responsible for ensuring that websites are technically functional, the responsibility for effective search engine visibility, positive visitor experience and strong call to action surely lies somewhere? And the default should be the Marketing division. In addition, the overall accountability has to belong to the Marketing executive right at the top of the echelon.

Let’s rewind to the basics. At the very least, a business website is meant to disseminate information about a company and its brands to consumers, suppliers, investors, analysts and other interested stakeholders. This clearly implies that communication specialists (who are Marketers of course!) should play a central role in ensuring that the right information is disseminated in an effective and efficient manner given the targeted audience.

One of the results relating to lack of clarity about responsibility and accountability for the Internet is lack of appropriate website information about the business and/or its brands, outdated brand packaging shots, and generally uninteresting websites that are just noise on the Internet as they do not serve the information purpose they are meant for.

On the whole, I do believe this situation persists in a number of companies that do not regard the Internet as a key business and brand communication tool. And I shall be blogging a lot about this in the coming issues, relying on my past, current and future experiences

In closing, the Internet is generally seen as a must-have, but only as an address like Coco Channel on New York’s 5th Avenue. However, people forget that it can also serve as a compass providing the shortest distance to the actual location.

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