Technology as the Foundation for Business Outcomes

Danger Expectations
I've been working on a presentation for the 2014 Consumer Goods Technology Sales and Marketing Summit# where I am speaking (June 10). The broad theme of the conference is the IT/marketing alliance to take on big data and social media imperatives.

Within that theme, I am looking forward to talking about making sense of trends (vs. fads) and how marketers are a bridge to product and service delivery. Which means that marketers need to develop competencies and capacity in three areas:

  1. technical skills — including the ability to evaluate eComm platforms and average life expectancy of software to run its usefulness
  2. analytics — here the focus is measuring what matters
  3. customer experience — with all this expression encompasses, including becoming better storytellers, filling the information gaps with meaningful content, and helping fix what is broken

Further thoughts on the topic; no doubt a complex one with lots of moving parts.

Technology as the foundation for business outcomes

Technology has become the lens to view, quantify and capture customer relationships and the customer journey. The marketing team cannot be at its best unless it excels at understanding and using the right technology the right way for the right results.

Technologists know they must evolve, adapt, and iterate everything they do.

Of the six major trends Forrester Research has identified to propel business in 2013, all involve collaboration between IT and marketing. However, the risk management business value that technology organizations use to determine project implementation priorities is not aligned with the priorities of business teams.  Business units, marketing in particular, are dealing with ever-rapidly changing market forces that require rapid responses. In this environment, whether real or not, technology organizations can be perceived unwilling to collaborate with business; this perception becomes reality.

When technology was a mystery, technology groups could help drive priorities towards the ones they felt had business value. In a case of missing the forest for the trees, many technology organizations do not realize how much the world has changed – and is leaving them behind.  “The biggest thing that’s happened to the role of CIO in the past few years is the consumerization of IT — which means that CIOs and their tech staff are no longer the tech gurus in any organization,” says Joanne Kussuth, CIO of Needham, Mass.-based Olin College#

Like the vast majority of consumers, business does not care about systems, infrastructure or platforms. They want to run their business functions, grow the enterprise, and margins. When IT is perceived as a roadblock, they circumvent the group.

Business is now using the very tools technology created, embraced and evangelized like cloud and SaaS in particular, to work around IT.

IT organizations pride themselves on locking down enterprise technology and data – keeping it safe for those who need it, from those who should not have access to it.  However, digital content and information become useful only when shared. Apps, sites, social tools are meant to be as ubiquitous and pervasive as possible so that you can use the network effect to attract new customers, maintain old customers and expand the relationship with both.

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.

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.

Healthcare companies don’t just provide service or coverage anymore. Some, like Aetna are using technology to create and refine products like the iTriage app# with 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.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.