Is Your IT Team Still Holding Your Website Hostage?
Increasingly law firm marketing is leveraging technology to bring their message to target markets. Social media, blogs, websites, email and intranets fill the legal marketers tactical tool set. Historically, the guardian of these technologies is the IT team. Should they still be?
Website Control & Responsibility
At the turn of this century, the emerging technology was the law firm website and IT was firmly in control. First generation websites, often hosted on company servers and sometimes even built internally, were the obvious domain of IT. Never mind that the messaging objective was exclusively a marketing function, the site itself and the responsibility for reliable performance – and even updating the content – fell on the shoulders of IT.
Today, the IT team is entirely relieved of the website responsibility. External hosting and third party content management systems have placed the website outside the law firm infrastructure. Security, support and standards compliance resides with the developer and the website host. IT’s involvement is more a courtesy than a necessity. Or so we believed.
Drupal Not Spoken Here
In a recent opportunity with a law firm, the Drupal content management system proposed by Duo emerged as the exuberant choice of the marketing team. Asked to support the selection, the IT team determined that the platform that is powering over a million websites including everything from Mattel to the Committee on Homeland Security, from WhiteHouse.gov to the New York Senate, was not one this IT team would endorse. Which raises two questions:
Question 1: When was the last time a law firm IT team had to support an external website?
Regardless of whether the external website is built on any of the alphabet soup of technology platforms, e.g. Microsoft’s ASP.NET, PHP, ColdFusion, etc., the internal IT team’s familiarity with that platform is of little help in rectifying a problem with a third-party-developed website. The thought of an IT team digging into a website code base is simply a non-starter. When was the last time your IT team actually touched your website?
Question 2: Who is out of step?
Drupal is built in PHP, the most popular website programming language on the planet. PHP is the server-side programming language on 75% of all servers. Content management systems Joomla, WordPress as well as Drupal are written in PHP. The user-facing portions of both Wikipedia and Facebook were created using PHP. It is reasonable for every IT team to know that PHP is reliable, scalable and secure. Objecting to a Drupal platform built on PHP is to acknowledge isolation from mainstream web technology.
IT & Marketing Must Work Together
We understand and respect the collaborative relationship that exists between marketing and IT in law firms. For the benefit of future initiatives, it would be unwise for marketing to ignore IT’s concerns. Our appeal is to the IT teams to exercise its authority carefully and with an open mind to what is happening in the marketer’s world and not merely based on their internal technology ecosystem.