Driven by the emergence of a bridge organization in charge of analytics and business intelligence, a collaboration between departments that just a few years ago were considered completely separate is now a necessity.
Organizations that integrate efforts vertically (from back end to front end), and horizontally (between applications) are in the lead on building assets that can serve multiple functions. Companies that have managed the convergence of marketing and IT well are creating competitive advantage.
CMOs' digital roadmap is putting added pressure on the relationship with CIOs and/or CTOs, already in flux, and most likely revealing a lack of a unified technology strategy to guide the digital marketing transformation.
Customers are in the driver's seat
In the palm of their hands customers have the tools and the access they need to create media, upload data, share content, and compare notes about any company and its products and services.
With mobility as a growing reality, technology is at the core of today’s user experience. To participate in the opportunities of this new environment, businesses need to re-imagine commerce with digital at the core.
As the diagram from Gartner indicates, technology and marketing intersect in a complex web of relationships between applications, technologies, and business functions.
Technology organizations are historically and inherently risk-averse.
Due to the nature and scale of the systems they support and integrate (e.g., capital expenditures over multiple years, patches between legacy tech and new software, considerations around keeping business running and security, etc.), they proceed slowly and cautiously and don’t engage in projects without specific objectives, goals, and returns.
As illustrated in the graph, with digital as a dominant part of the picture, marketing organizations have a lot more on their plate than they used to and need to move swiftly to launch products, services and/or campaigns, measure results, and optimize.
What marketing projects have lacked in quantifiable, directly attributable return on investment (ROI) to justify technology expenditures in the past, marketers now have the opportunity to fund thanks to customer intelligence inferred via (in the more sophisticated instances) predictive analysis.
Technology at the core of business transformation
Marketers are becoming more tech savvy, and they are investing in technology that allows them to control the means of production — e.g., Software as a Service or SaaS, Cloud, Content Management System or CMS, etc.
IT organizations then have two clear choices: either 1) continue to build the walled garden and be the organization of “no”; or 2) embrace and facilitate change.
Like the vast majority of consumers, business does not care about systems, infrastructure or platforms. They want to run their business functions, grow margins and the enterprise. When IT is perceived as a roadblock, they circumvent the group.
By embracing change, IT organizations can partner with marketing to become a business enablement organization. In this role they can guide and foster product and service innovation through technology.
Used strategically, technology can be an accelerator for business and industry as a whole. Consider the transistor, the microprocessor, the personal computer, the cloud, and SaaS. Each of these leaps in technology spawned new business and industry and enabled the transformation of existing businesses and industries such as music, publishing, photography, video, etc.
Going direct with digital
Digital transformation drives business value. Netflix isn’t about DVD rentals or video on demand -– it’s a content delivery network.
Apple doesn’t just create beautiful and aesthetic devices –- they are a publishing service and content delivery network with audio, video, software, books, and periodicals. Apple’s Q1 2013 revenue# from iTunes was fast approaching that of Mac’s. Annualized, it’s greater than the annual revenues of Texas Instruments or Nordstrom#. It’s also greater than the aggregate annual revenues of Netflix, Facebook, and Yahoo.
Some, like Aetna are using technology to create and refine products like the iTriage app#.
iTriage provides multiple benefits including reducing number of patient visits to their doctor, which has decreased Aetna’s costs and improved customer satisfaction.
The momentum to find and develop products like iTriage was started when the CIO and CMO collaborated to get closer to the customer and deliver a tangible benefit to the enterprise#. Aetna acquired iTriage app maker Healthagen in 2011#.
The new strategic imperative is to develop deep and direct relationships with customers. Leveraging those relationships is the purview of marketing. Enabling and facilitating this imperative should be the role of IT.
[image Gartner Digital Marketing Transit Map# shows the relationships among business functions, application services and solution providers]
Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effects on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.