3 Tips For Successfully Running Tech Outside the IT Department

When marketing opts for "extra-departmental IT," coordination and communication are required to keep things secured.

Patrick Kehoe, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Coalfire

November 11, 2020

4 Min Read

As veterans of last century enterprises will wistfully recall, there was a time when data was primarily the concern of IT departments. If you were in HR, for example, you were mostly dealing with people, policies, and employment law. If you were in distribution, you focused on packaging, inventory, fleets, and carriers. And if you were in marketing, your attention would center on advertising, promotion, surveys, and sales. That was then.

Today, marketing is all about data. Every aspect of the marketing function leans on enterprise applications for data and insights to create and deliver highly customized messages to reach prospects and customers through the appropriate channels. Terabytes of data on everything — from customer behavior and preferences to buyer intent and engagement touchpoints — keep marketing operating at high levels.

Most of the data and applications are provided by third-party data companies and SaaS technologies that are housed and governed within marketing, not the IT department. There are several reasons behind this extra-departmental trend. More employees are tech-savvy digital natives, less dependent on IT for solutions, plus there aren't enough developers to address the proliferation of marketing data and analyses needed, especially for small businesses. And quite often, marketing/developer mismatches lead managers to look for their own solutions.

The trend, which is not limited to marketing, is pervasive and accelerating. Gartner recently found that applications housed outside of IT (part of what's referred to as shadow IT) represent 30% to 40% of IT spending in large enterprises, and other research by Everett Group suggests that up to 50% is spent outside of IT.  

Unfortunately, marketing and IT are often on different pages when it comes to securing these critical assets. In 2018, a 10-country RSA survey suggested several reasons. The study, which included more than 600 marketing and IT employees in companies with revenues of at least $50 million, revealed significant differences in the perceptions of workers as they applied to the use of "workarounds," security reviews, collaboration, software selection, and security risks. Given the misalignment, it is unsurprising that Gartner projects that fully one-third of all successful attacks that enterprises experience are on their shadow IT resources.

When sensitive marketing data is handled outside of IT, watch out! Peering into the foreseeable future, the data boom and use of powerful solutions offered by third-party vendors are unlikely to wane. Security teams can prepare for this onslaught and manage the changes ahead with these best practices.

First, security should maintain tight oversight of third-party vendors and marketing technology and ensure that all cyber partners and contractors understand and stay in step with the company's data governance policies. Marketing department leaders should be armed with a clear understanding of the company's security requirements before they select vendors and third-party suppliers to work with. 

Make Marketing Part of Incident Response
Security experts can ensure that their incident response plan includes sufficient detail for marketing, covering among other things, when and how the cyber team will work with marketing to communicate a breach. Since it's not a question of if, but rather when, a firm gets breached, it's critical to rehearse with marketing and the other corporate functions what to do when an incident takes place.

Enable a Security Mentality in Marketing
Ensure training on security fundamentals and development and adoption of policies related to customer data management and other marketing activities. One thing to include is a security policy for social media activities, including educating employees on their secure and appropriate uses. Controversial social comments often evoke hacks, but a little training can go a long way. Work with your marketing leads, HR, and risk advisers on appropriate training and integrations.

Considering how data access and data governance are driving customer relationships, it's clear that marketing has a starring role in cyber-risk management that will only command more resources in the years ahead. Decreasing cyber vulnerability in the marketing enterprise is an exercise for both marketing and IT security teams, and collaborations on this front will be crucial for advancing digital transformation initiatives.

About the Author(s)

Patrick Kehoe

Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Coalfire

Patrick Kehoe is Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Coalfire. He has over twenty-five years of experience working with software, hardware, and service providers in High Tech and cybersecurity markets, where he has successfully built and deployed growth strategies and innovative marketing approaches.  Prior to joining Coalfire, Mr. Kehoe served as Chief Marketing Officer for Arxan, where he and the team analyzed application security vulnerabilities and deployed solutions to protect applications. Previously, he held leadership positions at Siemens Enterprise Communications (now Unify), a global provider of communications software and services, where he was responsible for North American marketing and partner business and drove market awareness and pipeline generation. Prior to Siemens, Mr. Kehoe spent nearly 20 years with Booz Allen Hamilton and MarketBridge, a sales and marketing professional services firm, providing business and IT strategy consulting services.

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