Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
07:06 AM
Connect Directly

IT Leaders Must Assume New Role: Marketers

Marketing isn't just the CMO's job. Getting directly involved with customer engagement is necessary for your IT career and your company's success, experts at Authority 2014 explained.

and creativity to the forefront of our companies and organizations. "It's always too soon," Godin said. "But here's the thing: When Gutenberg launched the printing press, 93% of people were illiterate. What a lousy time to invent it!"

Look how few truly large organizations have adopted new methodologies such as Lean Startup or actual cloud computing (as opposed to cloudwashing). We always want things to be fully "ready" before we launch them. Said Godin: "Important work always ships before it's ready."

How do you get beyond that fear factor? Handley's suggestion: "Place lots of small wagers, experiment." Then measure how successful those wagers are.

Overcoming fear and doubters

There will be plenty of naysayers. "Smart people are going to say that you're no good when you do important work," Godin said. I remember when my senior network engineer, a very smart guy but a member of the Microsoft one-app-per-one-server camp, tried to talk me out of virtualization. "Jonathan, you may not realize that more than one operating system will be running on one piece of hardware," he told me, with a tacit "you idiot!" at the end of the sentence. We all know how that assertion turned out.

The new marketing is the virtualization of modern business. Most of us, asked if we're willing to throw out the old rulebook to engage with customers and advance business goals, would say yes easily. But most of us won't follow through.

Here's why you'd better overcome your fear of the unknown and follow through:

First, survival. Your company's or organization's ability to survive very likely depends on your ability to help it understand and operate in the new marketing. And marketing is becoming a more tech-intensive business by the minute. I dare you: Dig into this stuff even a little bit and tell me that I'm wrong.

Second, meaning. This is just a better way to do business. Permission-based marketing is replacing the slimy sales reptile, which can't succeed in a world in which the buyer, not the seller, has the information advantage. Don't believe me? Read Daniel H. Pink's To Sell Is Human. The upshot is that the rake 'em and run tactic is giving way to sales and marketing relationships that are honest, and therefore meaningful, which most of us prefer.

Third, prosperity. Your personal brand matters more than ever, and the more you engage in the new, non-mass marketing, the more you personally will prosper. Gone are the days when the ad agency pushed out relatively anonymous content to the masses. In the new reality, employees like you are creating engaging content: Webiners, blog posts, community comments, "ask me anything" chats, tutorial videos. Those IT folks who participate in this marketing will grow their personal brands.

Fourth, impact. The world of mass marketing and industrial organization meant that, individually, we never had much of an impact on our organizations. But in this new world of "1,000 true fans" not only are we working to promote our companies' products and services, but our customers are, too. That's huge.

"Someone in this room is going to change everything," Godin said at the Authority conference. "It's not because they have more resources than you. It's because they care." Care. Produce meaning. That's the path of the new marketing for yourself and for your business. IT can help lead the way.

Trying to meet today's business technology needs with yesterday's IT organizational structure is like driving a Model T at the Indy 500. Time for a reset. Read our Transformative CIOs Organize For Success report today. (Free registration required.)

Jonathan Feldman is Chief Information Officer for the City of Asheville, North Carolina, where his business background and work as an InformationWeek columnist have helped him to innovate in government through better practices in business technology, process, and human ... View Full Bio
2 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
User Rank: Author
5/27/2014 | 1:09:24 PM
CIO As Marketing Pro
This topic came up several times at the MIT CIO Symposium last week. Forrester analyst Peter Burris noted how many technology company CIOs now tag along to customer sales pitches. The CIO of the potential customer wants to hear from the tech company CIO more than he or she wants to hear from the sales/marketing folks making the pitch.

Have you got the close-the-deal cred required for such interactions? Same is true for CIOs with security concerns regarding new projects or services. They want to hear it right from the CIO of the partner, the potential vendor...
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.