About a couple of years ago, I attended a tourism marketing seminar at George Washington University in Washington, DC that targeted specifically destinations and their online marketing programs. There were representatives from the Department of Commerce, Annapolis, Virginia, Massachusetts, and even Washington, DC. One of the items that came up was that people in destinations didn’t have what I’d like to discuss here: an integrator.
What is an integrator? Basically, to paraphrase what I learned at this seminar, an integrator is the person who is responsible for fielding all the project work and making sure that all the creative assignments are handled, the development team is taken care of, and the stakeholders are advised periodically on what’s going on. They’re basically the command center of any web project. If the creative team needs assets, then they talk to the integrator. If the development team needs things scoped out, they don’t go talking to the client or the boss, they talk to the integrator who then, in turn, goes and talks to the person with the answers.
Yes, this all sounds like a project manager, but it’s more an integrator of technology rather than budgeting and scheduling. This is the person who will understand how all the applications going on in your website and your online marketing efforts work together. If you have a CRM or internal database feeding into your website, the integrator will understand the basic workflow to talk knowledgeably to ensure that all the other components function as they should. In the age of open source software that we’re in now, we don’t have to accept the technology presented to us by our agency or interactive team. I know that seems a little brash, but have we become more “technology agnostic” where we can simply focus on getting to the finish line but we don’t have to settle for a website developed in ColdFusion when we know that something developed in PHP, AJAX, or LAMP architecture would be probably better and more cost-efficient?
Take for example that you’d like to have an Intranet developed for your company. There are many ways that you can do this (obviously we’re not taking into consideration specific requirements & we’re speaking in generics). You could contract with a web development company to have them create one from scratch at which point the integrator will be the one working with the web company to make sure it works and meets the company’s requirements. OR, you could have the integrator work on having a third-party vendor supply an already developed Intranet mechanism at which point the integrator would be working with the parties to make sure that it works with the hosting provider and other technology.
So the question here is whether or not you have an integrator? Do you have someone who you can turn to and rely on them simply focusing on the online marketing efforts and having them deal with the technology? They’re called many different things: project manager, marketing manager, web producer, etc. but they seem to serve the same purpose: orchestrate and centralize control of all the web technology affecting online advertising, web traffic analytics, content management, CRM/databases, third-party vendors, social media, etc.