Stronger Together – Breaking C-Suite Barriers Through Digital Transformation (Part1)

Redefining Business, Reallocating Technology

Technology’s role within the modern organization has come a long way in a short period of time.

For decades, companies have considered their IT department as primarily a provider of infrastructure services, whose role was to support the business by offering networking, storage, data backups, email and word processing. But the advent of emerging technologies in recent years has enhanced IT’s reach to the point that it is now considered a trusted business partner, offering business-aligned IT solutions intent on increasing agility and reducing costs company-wide.

As a result, IT now stands as a leader of change, enabling new strategic business models that align with all departments to collaboratively drive revenue and growth. In short, IT no longer simply supports the business. IT has become the business.

These days, every company is an IT company at heart, and that means every C Suite position is essentially an IT position. From health care to manufacturing, from the auto industry to finance, we are all basically selling IT.

Take banks, for example. Everything is done online, today’s transactions are digital, and every customer is essentially buying a technology service. The lines are blurring across the board.

This can be frightening for organizations who lack the vision to commit to a smart digital transformation. Dell Technologies recently completed a digital business research survey with Vanson Bourne that states a whopping 48% of companies don’t know what their industry will look like in 3 years. Such chaos is quickly making the old ways of looking at C Suite divisions obsolete. To face the future, decision makers are going to need each other like never before.

Changing Goals, Changing Roles

To address the fear and confusion such chaos brings, the leaders of forward thinking companies are beginning to work together more effectively so as to maximize IT’s potential and achieve their individual goals together. Looking forward, the primary focus of the successful company will be to expand its reach and implement innovative business strategies by using emerging technology in new ways, and such vision begins at the top.

Steered by the Connected CEO, kept on course by the Connected CMO and fueled by the Connected CIO, digital transformation has the power to unite the entire C-Suite through increased collaboration initiatives. As the divisions between departments, their responsibilities and their individual focus begin to fade, they are replaced by the sharing of more common initiatives emphasizing the good of the company as a whole.

Sound partnerships are essential to success.

The CIO/CMO Partnership – Two Sides of the Same Coin

With this in mind, two roles stand out from the C-Suite as being perfectly-poised to turn the uncertainty of digital disruption into dramatic opportunities for company-wide success. For an organization to succeed in the Digital Age, it must have a sound CIO/CMO partnership.

Let’s face it, technology is what has allowed Marketing to make the leap from yesterday’s instinctive predictors to modern day trusted data analysts. Speaking from experience, marketers rely on IT to provide them with the foundations they require to achieve these goals. But IT needs Marketing as well, to give focus to its vision as to which technologies are most relevant for increasing a company’s reach within their industry. As a tangible example, our biggest singular line item in the marketing budget is an IT budget for predictive analytics to support hypertargeting. Clearly, we need each other.

When you break it down, CIOs and CMOs  basically want the same thing. They just view IT from different perspectives. To be effective for the entire company, they need to incorporate their individual visions so as to focus their organization’s digital transformation initiative.

Let’s break it down: CIOs see the potential of emerging technologies from inside the company/ looking out. Their vision focuses on how IT can help the organization engage the market, and they ask themselves what technologies will best benefit employees and allow them to achieve their true potential so as to increase the company’s market reach.

Heads of Marketing see things from the opposite side of the table. Hyper-connectivity has changed our role dramatically and given us huge mountains of data on which to stand to see the big market picture, while big data analytics, AI and cloud computing have provided us with a sharper focus on our customers’ needs, as well as tangible data to show ROI for the emerging tech we need to turn such data into a sale.  To achieve our goals, we marketers need IT’s help.

But the CIO needs ours, too. Whereas CIOs see IT’s potential for connecting the business to the market, CMOs see the market and apply it to the business. Working together, we give the company a complete view of the potential for emerging technologies. And effectively, our goals are the same – namely, ensuring a successful digital transformation for our organization. That is the only way we can each achieve our respective visions.

Joining Forces to Create a Shared Vision

For Marketers, the focus is on connecting with the customer, and that means taking the customer journey into new dimensions. Today’s customer is always connected, always researching, and always looking for a new experience. To design and sustain brand loyalty in the modern age, Marketers have to invent new channels for communication, new ways of understanding customer needs, and new ways to hone their message and boost the customer experience to previously unforeseen levels.

For IT professionals, the focus is on connecting the organization, and that means taking the necessary steps to transform the workplace to meet the needs of the Digital Age. These same technologies that marketers use to enhance the customer experience, mine personal data and increase the number of channels connecting them to customers have tangible applications within companies themselves.

  • Cloud computing enables collaboration between departments and across global sites.
  • Data lakes enable triangulation of insight to an actionable level.
  • AI links Production and Development, increasing time-to-market.
  • IoT connects each stage of the supply chain and offers real-time data for both management and sales to act on, increasing both productivity and efficiency.

By enlisting the help of the CIO, Marketers also get access to the tools needed to cement their role as trusted data analysts and produce accurate, proven data regarding ROI for Marketing expenditures, thereby increasing their prominence as business strategists within the company. This enhances marketing’s reputation, as marketing is no longer considered a blanketing tool, but a highly specific science capable of predicting, monitoring and manipulating business trends. Just as IT‘s potential now belongs to the entire C Suite, so too do Marketing’s insights. Merging perspectives.

By trusting the CMO’s analytical powers and ability to generate increased revenue for the company, CIOs better understand which technologies most benefit the company. They use the CMO’s analytical focus and awareness of the state of the market to create the technical foundations for achieving this new company vision in a real market-based setting, rather than in a vacuum. This lets them implement their digital transformations from the outside/in, ensuring that their technology initiatives address not only what the business wants, but what the market demands.

Through strategic alignment, both sides can increase their budget, and thus gain access to a greater share of emerging IT solutions. To those who understand the true potential behind emerging technologies in today’s market, joining forces makes smart business sense and prepares the foundations on which to build tomorrow’s more flexible IT structures. When digital transformation is successfully implemented and the two visions become one, everyone gets connected – and everyone wins.

About the Author: Margaret Franco

Margaret Franco is responsible for leading end to end marketing and demand generation activities across Europe, Middle East and Africa for Dell EMC. Margaret has a long marketing and product management history in the technology industry. She started her career in Compaq and HP in Houston Texas, where she held multiple global leadership roles supporting both the consumer and commercial PC segments. Margaret joined Dell in 2005 and held a number of executive global roles in North America, Europe and Asia in the commercial and enterprise product group organizations. She has also led a number of global marketing functions, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications responsible for online, marketing communications, agency relationships and brand positioning for AMD. Margaret has an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from the University of Houston and has a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University. Her specialties include Strategy development, Product marketing, Planning, Life cycle management, P&L optimization, CXO level customer interface, Integrated marketing, Brand management , Marketing and Sales Programs.