The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy

Larry Bonfante, Founder, CIO Bench Coach | 7/24/2013 | 18 comments

Larry Bonfante
I hear a lot of discussion from executives as to who should be in charge or developing and delivering a company's customer-facing digital strategy. To me, like so many things in life, I feel the right answer is that "we are smarter than me." Collaboration is the key to leveraging the digital landscape to better engage the consumers of your products and services.

One key group that needs to be involved is your business owners. These are the people who own the services and products your company is selling. They understand the outcomes they are hoping to accomplish. They know their customers and prospects better than anyone else. Getting them engaged and vested in helping to develop and implement your online strategy is critical to the success of this effort.

Another group that often leads this charge is your marketing team. Your CMO understands how to engage and message your community better than anyone else. She knows how to capture and analyze data to allow you to continue to fine-tune and tweak your online presence to ensure that you are reaching the greatest audience and that your message is having the greatest impact.

Of course, the CIO also needs to play a key role in this effort. But this role is not necessarily setting the digital strategy. The CIO can add value by helping his peers in marketing and the business understand how technology can be leveraged to fully engage potential communities of interest. He is the reality check as to what is possible, how much it should cost, and how long it should take. He can bring a level of process discipline to helping run a digital capability like any other technology-based service -- on time, on budget, and on value. Effective CIOs seek to collaborate and support this effort, not "take it over."

As a team these executives must ask and answer some difficult but critical questions. What are we trying to accomplish in the digital landscape? Who are the audiences we hope to engage? What are the outcomes we hope to achieve? What should we be for our community? Perhaps more importantly, what shouldn't we be? The biggest mistake you can make in the digital world is to try to be all things to all people. This leads to a watered down approach where people can't hear a clear voice from your company, hear a clear message, or align around clear calls to action. It's better to fine-tune your message and your audience than to cast a wide net in the hopes that some fish might swim by. In the digital world, like in so many arenas, it's better to be a foot wide and a mile deep than be all over the map but never land the plane.

How are your organizations leveraging their digital presence? What's working for you? Who's involved in your process? Let's start a dialogue and share some best-practices and lessons learned.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
shakeeb   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/31/2013 5:25:20 AM
Re: Re : The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
Well when it comes to CEO's role, he should be able to handle the internal conflicts before managing the key customers. Having internal problems would definitely have an impact on the key customer you have when it comes to fulfilling their requirement.
Kerstin Carson   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/31/2013 3:14:39 AM
Collective Ownership?
These days, "collaboration is key" in many industries. That said, I like the idea of co-owners or multi-owners of a project. One project manager from each faction of the team (IT, marketing, etc.), with the CIO overseeing the tech component of a company's digital presence aspect of a particular project, and the CMO overseeing the marketing or business component of the same project.

Collective ownership of a project may be just as effective as collaboration during a project.
a.saji   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/28/2013 9:27:57 AM
Re: Re : The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
@Sunita: I think the CIOs role would be to direct and manage key customers if there is urgency. If not its all about directing and monitoring the progress. 
SunitaT   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/27/2013 10:05:54 AM
Re : The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
Together with the need to expressive more explicitly how technology delivers value to the business, the CIO must "differentiate to lead" through numerous innovation strategies. The need to own innovative and effective brands is a key CIO strategy. Along with IT and marketing, the CIO can align to capture advanced ideas for building customer loyalty, strengthening the brand and creating a differentiated customer experience.
Hayder   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/25/2013 3:25:18 PM
Re: The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
There has to be a combination of better tech and management mix. Without a fine balance things might not work the efficient way. 
shakeeb   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/25/2013 6:25:03 AM
Re: The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
@Marif. Exactly. The role for tech lead is ideal as he is more in to make sure the IT deliverables are delivered.
shakeeb   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/25/2013 6:19:54 AM
Re: The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
@shamika. I think it is a good combination. IT would know the technical aspect of the requirement rather than the business. Working closely with them will help you to develop the exact requirement.
geeky   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/25/2013 6:15:25 AM
Re: The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
@Zaius: Yes definitely it will be something that the CIOs should look in as a working pattern for them to do. Not happening on a day to day basis but in the long run a study of the progress should be done by the CIO
Marif   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/25/2013 4:24:00 AM
Re: The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
You are right Zaius, there should be representatives from both sides; the business and technology. I would prefer to assign project management to business who is also normally the project owner. Along with business we need to tag a strong IT professional as the Technical lead to the project, who would not be a decision maker for project tasks or timelines but is responsible for the projects activates falling under IT's bucket.
Zaius   The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy   7/24/2013 11:53:37 PM
Re: The CIO's Role in Customer-Facing Technology Strategy
It is kind of self explanatory. There is 'technology', so IT will be there. And, ther is 'customer-facing', therefore, the peopel who deal the customers, know their demands, know their angers and frustration should also pitch in. Depending on the case, CIO might need to play the role of the guardian.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Larry Bonfante
Larry Bonfante   5/7/2014   58 comments
Most leaders feel a sense of responsibility for creating a professional work environment where their people can succeed, but I feel this is nowhere near enough.
Larry Bonfante   4/28/2014   24 comments
Of all the competencies required to be an effective CIO, perhaps none is more important than being able to build positive relationships with your key stakeholders. I've never seen a CIO ...
Larry Bonfante   4/9/2014   10 comments
When every capital expenditure is put under a microscope, it's harder than ever to continue to make the necessary investments in refreshing the technology our companies need to compete in ...
Larry Bonfante   3/25/2014   20 comments
Today we are flooded with an almost infinite number of data streams. From traditional sources such as registration and consumer purchasing platforms to social media feeds, tweets, and ...
Larry Bonfante   2/25/2014   19 comments
CIOs don't work alone. Effective CIOs develop effective partnerships with the other executives in the "C-Suite" -- partnerships that take time, effort, and understanding to build.
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
[email protected]
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.