Side by Side

The development of the Web page of Symantec Corp., a software vendor headquartered in Cupertino, CA, provides a good example of how IS on one side and marcom on the other can work in partnership to develop an effective Web page.

The idea to develop the company Web site originated with IS but not because that department was tasked with developing new marketing ideas. "Those were the people who knew about the Internet and were using it on a daily basis to get information," says Vicki Ziegler, business development manager at the Toronto office of Symantec.

Once the idea was hatched, the spotlight shifted to a group of marcom people that included technical writers. The group, which eventually became the online business development team and is now headed by Ziegler, was tasked with determining content for the Web site. Team members fanned out over the company, meeting with business managers to find what they wanted to communicate in the new Web medium. Among the responses were these: The support department wanted to post technical information sheets; product groups wanted to showcase their products; marketing people asked to make press releases available; and human resources hoped to use the Web for job postings.
At the same time, IS began boning up on the technical side of Web development. "We made a clear distinction between the people who run the servers and the people who develop and publish the content," says Ziegler. She believes that a dangerous pitfall is "too much blurring of the line between IS's responsibilities and marketing's responsibilities."

Now that Symantec has begun to do electronic commerce in a limited pilot project, IS will soon be more heavily involved in the site. Currently, the company is selling only one software product online. Users enter their credit card information and then are allowed to download the software they have purchased.

To get this pilot up and running quickly, Ziegler opted to hire a third-party service company. Because of the success of the pilot, all product managers at the company now want to put their products on the Web. So shortly Symantec will bring that function in-house, and IS will have to shoulder the responsibility of installing and maintaining secure commerce servers. "Basically we'll have the third-party supplier do a brain dump with our IT department," says Ziegler. After that, the company will be on its own, but almost everyone will have a stake in the results.