In the last eight years, social media, mobile apps, cloud computing, and big-data have made it a digital world. Now we are in that phase where we try to figure out what it all means and find out where the new opportunities are in this new world.
Since digital is what IT is all about, it follows that IT and marketing groups need to be collaborating in a big way. The CIO/CMO partnership should be one of the biggest win-win, career-enhancing opportunities around. We should be hearing all kinds of CIO/CMO buddy stories, and inspiring tales of great things achieved and more great things in the works. But those tales are few and far between. Why?
In many companies (maybe even most) the CIOs and IT groups report to CFOs and COOs, and marketing and customer experience issues are often not high priorities for CFOs and COOs. At the same time, CMOs are under increasing pressure to do something (as shown by the high turnover rates in that position), so they go with whatever solution they can find today, and deal with the technology consequences later.
This social/mobile/cloud/big-data technology that CMOs are trying to figure out how to use is front office technology in every sense of the word. It is customer-facing and integral to any company’s ability to find and satisfy customers. It is quite different from traditional back office finance and operations oriented technology such as ERP systems, server farms and websites. But without effective involvement of their in-house IT groups, marketing groups will turn to outsiders and "depend on the kindness of strangers" as the saying goes. Bad decisions will be made as a consequence.
There is a learning curve for both IT and marketing people. It is going to take work for these two groups to learn how to collaborate, and use this new technology effectively, and integrate it securely with in-house systems. Yet pressure is growing relentlessly on companies to deliver increased revenue and customer satisfaction that can only come from smart collaboration between IT and marketing.
Marketing people need to figure out how to best use this new technology to find, communicate with, sell to, and service customers. In this economy the ultimate asset is profitable customers. Everything else is secondary. IT people need to figure out how to integrate the new technology with relevant company systems such as order entry, inventory control, accounting, and business intelligence. And they need to figure out how to monitor the real-time data that comes from this technology so companies can sense and respond to changes and opportunities as they arise. IT people need to do more than just provide a technology platform; they need to be strategic partners with marketing groups.
For IT directors who want to become CIOs, and for CIOs who want to become business leaders, here is your opportunity. Figure out how to use this technology and how to effectively collaborate with marketing, and watch your careers take off.