Building a Sustained Partnership Between the CIO and CMO

Building a Sustained Partnership Between the CIO and CMO

A CDG Executive Dinner Debate held at The Shard Q1 2015

Gartner’s often cited view that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO lends weight to the notion that traditional lines of remit and responsibility are becoming blurred across enterprises in the digital age.

In order to succeed, business leaders must adapt to periods of rapid change and uncertainty, and harness the benefits of closer collaboration with their peers.
Keynote speakers included Phil Pavitt, Global CIO of Specsavers, and Bryan Glick, Editor-in-Chief of Computer Weekly.

Discussion highlights:

CDG hosted its annual CIO roundtable event, which brought together a collection of leading figures from the world of UK IT and Marketing to discuss the challenges in implementing enterprise Digital initiatives. 

Led by Phil Pavitt, Global CIO of Specsavers, and Bryan Glick, Editor in Chief of Computer Weekly, the initial discussion led to several strands of dialogue with the attendees based on the mix of professional and personal experiences. 

The first discussion point highlighted that Digital initiatives have huge potential, but can be a lost opportunity if not approached correctly.  One CIO mentioned that he’d recently had to review a large Digital project that missed one of the company’s key criteria on customer service.  While the technology side was considered innovative, any implementation in the proposed form would have potentially compromised the relationship between customers and the brand. 

Going further, another CIO compared the concept of Digital to the Millennium Bug, in that it could provide a lot of opportunity for “busy work” that may not ultimately impact the business in the anticipated way.  And Digital may represent a challenge for the IT side of the business, where CIOs run the risk of only representing the costs associated with projects, while CMOs point to positive business results if objectives are achieved. 

It was suggested that Digital projects have to stand on their own merits; and that they cannot be achieved by IT or by Marketing teams alone.  This led to the next major topic of discussion around the culture required to underpin successful digital initiatives. 

One of the attendees led project marketing within a financial services company; she pointed to how business departments often represented silos within organisations.  This made it difficult to implement end-to-end processes and put true collaboration initiatives in place.  Change often represented risk for the company; making small changes or doing things differently was difficult.  It was often only possible to put change programmes in place for both Marketing and IT when there was serious external pressure to react to. 

This requirement for change around culture led to several discussions taking place, from looking at how to make change in culture happen through to how to treat problems appropriately and not rely on existing approaches or toolsets.  

From the event, there were several items to take away:  It was a challenge for IT teams to avoid seeing every issue as a technology problem, while often, CMOs viewed similar issues as being a marketing or brand problem.  Working on these problems in a collaborative way may help to avoid this arising, as well achieving results more quickly. o The onset of new automation and new technologies runs faster than the ability of businesses to manage their use of said technologies.  The implementation of new IT systems does not guarantee that companies will suddenly be “innovative”.  Instead, it’s important to recognise how automation can make processes better, not just faster or less prone to human error. o There is a difference between creating a “Digital business” and digitising aspects of the business.  The first option uses technology to create a new approach to working with customers, while the latter concentrates on specific operations of the business.  Both are valid options, but they are not the same. o IT cannot take the same “command and control” approach to technology that often worked in the past and apply it to Digital; there are too many moving parts that are outside the CIO’s control for this to work, and the CIO will probably not have the core skills to manage all the potential customer experience and service elements of Digital in any case. o At the same time, Marketing is no longer the sole area of the organisation responsible for generating revenue.  IT is too fundamental to business today for it not to be involved in how Digital initiatives are delivered.

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