Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
6/5/2014
03:20 PM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
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The CIO's 2 New BFFs

Now that business is digital at its core, it's time to buddy up with the CDO and CMO.

make two important new friends in the business: the chief digital officer and the chief marketing officer.

If you're the CIO of a company with a CDO, invite that person out to lunch as soon as you're done reading this (assuming that you're not already lunch buddies). If your company doesn't have someone in the CDO role, do all you can to lead the digital charge before it appoints someone else. Tanya Cordrey, CDO for London-based Guardian News & Media, participated in the CIO Symposium session with Westerman. She said her role on the executive team is meant to be "that little bit of grit in the oyster to make sure we never lose our emphasis on moving forward."

According to Cordrey:

Our approach to digital transformation was dropping a pebble in a pond, and that pebble was the formation of my team. We are building a world-class digital team that would not look out of place at Google or in Silicon Valley. Building out those disciplines was a very clear signal to the rest of the organization that we were going to move forward, and that we had a critical mass of people who were going to drive that transformation forward. Everybody who works at the Guardian has to be digital.

F. Thaddeus Arroyo, CIO of AT&T Services, who also spoke during the session, got out ahead of the CDO trend. The corporate-wide CDO at AT&T Services reports to him. If your CDO reports directly to the CEO, it's even more critical that you become allies.

Outside of IT, the most digital savvy part of your organization is likely your marketing department. Its members have been working on customer-facing digital initiatives for years, either with or without the CIO's involvement.

Advising CIOs to befriend the CMO isn’t a new concept, but it's easier said than done. Plenty of cultural barriers remain. The two organizations are still jostling for technology budgets.

Arroyo takes a different approach to the budget conundrum. "I like to look at every budget as a digital budget," he said. "As you're using digital technologies to enhance the top line, you can afford to drive incremental investment. As you make those cases, and you're facing disruption in your industry, many of your technology budgets will continue to grow as long as you can prove business value."

Added Westerman: "The great CIOs are not only about spending IT money well. They're good at helping the business spend money well. The better you get at managing technology, the more appetite the organization has for spending on technology, because they see the results."

Who are your best friends at your enterprise? Have you faced hurdles in working with the CMO and marketing department? Does your company have a CDO, or do you think it needs one? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
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Hospice_Houngbo
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Hospice_Houngbo,
User Rank: Strategist
6/23/2014 | 8:44:00 PM
Re: CDO turf
@Suzan_Nunziata: Is there any better approach to deal with these kinds of power struggles within the corporate leadership?
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
6/19/2014 | 10:38:38 AM
Digital Master definition
I wonder if their definitions ofwhich companies are digital savvy are leading them to the conclusion that digital savvy companies lead innovation from the top down. Seemed like it was practically included in the definition. While I think the first part of their definition is spot on. seeing tech as a real tool for change is great, but the second part:

They drive technology innovation across all business departments, marrying a clear digital vision with a strong governance foundation, preparing the company to change, and seeing that change through.

forces you to conclude that digital masters are working top down becasue it's in the definition. So what are you if you use technology to change your comapny but allow each department  to find their own way?

SaneIT
IW Pick
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/19/2014 | 8:11:22 AM
Re: CDO turf
I wonder how many executives fight their way to the top only to find out that they don't have much of a support structure around them once they get there.  I have to believe that most would prefer to have a solid team around them that they can trust and that not all of them reach the top without some help. I'm big on having a strong team around me and giving credit where it is due so if I ever get that CIO title I shouldn't have to deal with much fighting due to ego issues.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/17/2014 | 4:56:26 PM
Re: CDO turf
@SaneIT: power trips and turf wars are probably the two most damaging things I've encountered, they can pretty well undermine any effort in an organization, particularly if the people engaging in them are high enough up the corporate ladder.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/17/2014 | 4:54:36 PM
Re: CDO turf
@WaqasAtlaf: So perhaps organizations really need a Chief Coordinating Officer. It seems that it's most often in the executiion of projects that things fall apart, good project management is hard to find in any field. why do you think it is that so many organizations struggle so much with execution and implementation?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/17/2014 | 4:51:42 PM
Re: CDO turf
@larryloeb: Truly, I thought you were kidding. I did not see that about PF Chang's moving to the old-school carbon paper credit card processors. They're certainly harder to hack, that's for sure. 

Another option, of course, is for everyone to start paying cash again...

Ya, I get it about the CDO title, seems like companies are a little too eager to call people Chief-This and Chief-That these days, which certainly seems to weaken the power that should be implied by the position. Certainly CIOs have a hard enough time getting their ideas through to the rest of the corporate leadership, so I can appreciate your skepticism that a CDO would have any better luck at it. 
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 11:54:08 AM
Re: The CIO's 2 New BFFs
I see where a lot of you guys are coming from when doubting the need for a CDO position at most companies (and believe me, I'm the first one to jump aboard any kind of anti-buzzword bandwagon at any opportunity). However, I think we're leaving a key point out of that discussion here, and it's exactly what Susan was trying to focus on in the article. "Technology" is no longer a subsection or a feature of most businesses - it's everywhere, and it touches every part of the business. At a certain point isn't saying the CIO should manage all that technology, all the time kind of like saying the CFO should micromanage every department's budget (which, maybe some CFOs do, but that's a talk for another time)? Do you really want all that extra work and does it really fit in the job description you signed up for when you joined?

As for the over-abundance of C-level positions, it definitely is a noticable trend, and we're right to stop and wonder if it's really the right way to go. I think there is a reason, for it, though. We talk a lot these days about the importance of 'nimbleness' or 'agility'. Startups can move so quickly because nobody there has to answer to anyone - everyone is in charge of what they're doing. There's something to be said for that agility at big companies. If you want to hire a 'digital' officer to manage your customer-facing technology projects (that is, to solve a problem you have now), does it really make sense to appoint him under the CIO? There's logic in the idea that if you want to see results, you need to appoint someone who's autonomous - and who's more autonomous than a chief?




SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 8:37:09 AM
Re: CDO turf
Your situation sounds very familiar and I would be in the same position if our executives didn't agree on so many issues.  There are times when I am stuck in the middle of differing opinions but it is often an issue of how to tackle a problem not so much a fight about where my efforts should be focused.  I also have moments of "when did he ask you to do that" which are uncomfortable but those are short lived and less stressful than full on power trips over who should be directing my department.

 
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/15/2014 | 8:14:36 PM
Re: CDO turf
@Waqas, I agree. The role of the coordinator is a the catalyst of the whole operation. To be an effective coordinator requires some skill.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
6/15/2014 | 6:29:49 AM
Re: CDO turf
Susan, agreed. The role of coordinator is very important. How to implement things without least affecting the routine operations is an art.
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