Survey Shows Creative and IT Collaboration on the Rise

As marketing becomes increasingly dependent on technology, creative and information technology (IT) teams are crossing paths more often.

Research from The Creative Group and Robert Half Technology underscores this trend: More than half (55 percent) of advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they are collaborating more closely with technology leaders within their company compared to three years ago. One-third (33 percent) of chief information officers (CIOs) reported the same of their marketing counterparts.

But barriers to effective partnering persist. When asked to name the number-one challenge for creative and IT teams when collaborating, the top response among advertising and marketing executives and CIOs was communication. Project logistics and IT-related challenges also are significant barriers, according to both sets of respondents.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “Compared to three years ago, how closely are you collaborating with technology leaders within your company?” Their responses:

  • Much more closely: 30%
  • Somewhat more closely: 25%
  • The same amount: 39%
  • Somewhat less closely: 3%
  • Much less closely: 0%
  • Does not apply: 1%
  • Don’t know: 1%

CIOs were asked, “Compared to three years ago, how closely are you collaborating with creative/marketing leaders within your company?” Their responses:

  • Much more closely: 12%
  • Somewhat more closely: 21%
  • The same amount: 37%
  • Somewhat less closely: 3%
  • Much less closely: 2%
  • Does not apply: 23%
  • Don’t know: 1%

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

“Technology’s increased role in customer acquisition and other marketing-related functions is one factor prompting higher levels of collaboration between IT and creative departments,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Poor communication between groups doesn’t just lead to discord and decreased productivity; it can also undermine a company’s ability to innovate.”

“The success of an organization’s digital strategy and initiatives is dependent on a strong partnership between creative and IT colleagues,” added Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “It’s imperative for business leaders to encourage teamwork and ongoing dialogue between the two groups, especially since there is so much crossover in key roles, such as user experience professionals, web designers and mobile application developers.”

The Creative Group and Robert Half Technology offer five tips to help creative and IT teams overcome common collaboration barriers:

  1. Form cross-functional teams around a central goal. While resources may come from different departments, creating one work group to tackle a particular project, like a website redesign, can help improve collaboration and eliminate an “us versus them” mentality. Once established, make sure objectives are clearly defined and communicated at the onset.
  2. Make time to meet — and use that time effectively. Creative and IT leaders reported that scheduling in-person meetings is difficult given heavy workloads. However, carving out an hour or two to discuss projects can save valuable time and prevent miscommunication down the road.
  3. Check jargon at the door. Workplace and departmental lingo can help colleagues communicate ideas more quickly, but excessive use can cause people to lose interest and tune out if it’s unfamiliar to them. Throw in technical terminology and buzzwords like “IoT” and “growth hacking” and the dialogue will only go downhill. Explain concepts in terms the audience will understand and use concrete examples when doing so.
  4. Encourage constructive criticism. Creative and IT executives said providing feedback to their counterparts is challenging because it’s often not well-received. Empathy can help pave the path toward more productive conversations throughout the duration of a project and at post-mortem meetings. Teams must also clarify the time and resources that go into an initiative: A seemingly simple task may include behind-the-scenes complexity.
  5. Resolve conflicts quickly. When miscommunication leads to frustration, tempers can flare, especially when creative and IT personnel are under pressure. Addressing cross-team discord swiftly can go a long way toward maintaining momentum and building morale.



About the Research

The surveys were developed by The Creative Group and Robert Half Technology, and conducted by an independent research firm. They include responses from 400 U.S. advertising and marketing executives and more than 2,400 CIOs from U.S. companies with 100 or more employees in 24 metropolitan areas.

About The Creative Group and Robert Half Technology

Both The Creative Group and Robert Half Technology ( are divisions of Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm and a recognized leader in professional staffing services.


Career Advice on The Creative Group Blog

Infographics: Creative and IT Collaboration on the Rise


New World of Work Requires Attitude Shift

Technology and changing business practices have fundamentally altered the way we work, build careers, and search for talent. While other parts of the world have caught on to this movement, the U.S. seriously lags behind when it comes to understanding this revolution and what to do about it. That’s the theme of “The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud”, a new book written by Tim Houlne and Terri Maxwell and scheduled to be released by Inspire on Purpose Publishing on January 1, 2013. Houlne and Maxwell believe that those who embrace the new world of work can succeed in jobs without boundaries or buildings.

Although the book isn’t written specifically for creative professionals, any writer, designer, or photographer who does freelance work can benefit from understanding some of global workforce trends presented to hiring managers, marketers, and project managers in “The New World of Work.”

The authors contend that competing in this new world of work requires a fundamental shift in thinking.  Once you can see and accept how work requirements have changed, you can create a better career for yourself.

For example, the authors envision a world in which professionals who have the right mindset and skills can choose jobs they are passionate about rather than settling for whatever jobs exist within a 50-mile radius of their homes. They write that when we create our own jobs, “We can put together workstreams of projects that we enjoy, rather than being forced to do tasks considered part of the ‘other-duties-as-assigned’ aspect of our job descriptions.”

The Global Talent Competition

The book explains that after the 2008 economic meltdown, our global economy spawned an entirely new way of organizing work. Work has been fractionalized, careers have been virtualized, and talent has been globalized.

“Routine work has been broken down into small tasks,” says Houlne. As a result, most companies will be hiring fewer full-time workers and outsourcing more routine tasks as contract projects.

Cloud technology is “virtualizing careers” by enabling professionals to work anywhere. The combination of fractionalized work and virtualized careers means that smart businesses can get talent from anywhere and at any time. They aren’t limited to hiring the best-qualified applicants who live within a 50-mile radius of their offices.

“While this is clearly an advantage for those businesses that can adapt, it is an even biggest opportunity for professionals who learn how to complete effectively for this work,” says Maxwell. “And, in a world with no boundaries, learning to compete for this work is paramount.”

Houlne and Maxwell believe that the speed of business and technological change has outpaced the ability of many workers to adapt, resulting in a mismatch between work and the skills required to fulfill the demand for certain jobs: “The jobs are there—in fact, businesses are crying out to fill them—workers just need to gain the necessary skills and attitudes to make those jobs their own.”

They point out “Work has spread across the globe because companies can source talent easily, and talent will compete for the work–not based on price, but on the quality of their work.”

Even though this means we all may face stiffer competition from others, some companies will compete for the best talent by providing interesting projects at competitive pay.

Stop Blaming Others and Move On

In the book, Houlne and Maxwell say it’s time to stop blaming corporations or the government for not protecting our jobs. Instead, we must accept that something much bigger is going on, set aside our fears, and prepare for the future.

They point out “The lack of good jobs is truly the most pressing issue in the industrialized world, but this challenge can easily be solved if companies and workers begin to think differently. The work still exists, but the jobs we once held do not.”

In the book, the authors present a roadmap for navigating the new world of work. For starters, they recommend that you start thinking more about the type of work you are most passionate about and the types of roles in which you can be most effective.  “Professionals who want to compete in the new world of work have a huge advantage if they can stop worrying about their jobs and build new career strategies.”

About the Authors

Tim Houlne is CEO at Working Solutions, a virtual agent and technology solutions provider in Dallas Texas. Terri Maxwell is a consultant to businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate growth. She has built numerous successful companies and created the Succeed on Purpose business incubator in Irving, Texas. Together, they have 50 years of leadership experience.


The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud

Website and Blog: The New World of Work