Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
6/5/2014
03:20 PM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail

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.



Is your business digital? A better question to ask is: Which part of your business isn't digital? Most organizations -- whether they are corporations, government agencies, healthcare organizations, or educational institutions -- are now digital at the core, including their interactions with customers.

Still not convinced? Here's what George Westerman, a researcher at the MIT Center for Digital Excellence, had to say about the companies that his research has found to be "digital masters." For them, "technology is not technology. It's an opportunity to rethink the processes of how they do business."

[Lets not forget the question of corporate culture. Read Geeks Versus Jocks: CIOs, Beware Your Culture.]

He discussed his team's research during a panel session on business transformation at last month's MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Boston. "Digital masters all have a common approach to managing digital and are 26% more profitable than their peers," he said. "They lead differently. For all the talk we've seen [advising us to] 'let innovation happen around your organization,' these leaders drive transformation from the top down."

Westerman and his research partners identify companies as digital masters if they meet the following two criteria:

  • They invest in technology with the viewpoint that it represents an opportunity to transform their business, and they have leaders who are proactive about finding ways to use digital technology to benefit all aspects of the business.
  • 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.

He gave some examples in a prepared statement, citing Nike, Caesar's Entertainment, and Chilean mining company Codelco as digital masters:

[Nike] is end-to-end digital, from supply chain to design and marketing. It combines custom-designed social media with a digital supply chain. By creating its Nike Digital Sport group, Nike linked all of these functions together, and the company is able to launch more products, customize products, test new designs, and customize advertising to a highly personal level. Within a Caesar's venue, customers are supplied with a concierge on their personal phones that immediately responds to any need, perceived or actual. And the largest copper company in the world, Codelco, is using digital technology both to track production in its copper mines and to update customers about orders. Digital technology also allows Codelco to use driverless mining trucks, and it may even help increase production while minimizing the volume of human activity underground and corresponding safety concerns.

According to a report released earlier this year by Forrester Research, the "biggest test on the road to becoming a digital business is convincing senior management that it's worth the effort. Only one in six of the 1,254 global business execs surveyed by Forrester said his or her company has the competencies to execute a digital strategy.

Indeed, as he noted during the MIT CIO Symposium, "If you think of your organization as a caterpillar, then digital should turn you into a butterfly." The problem, he said, is that many of the businesses his group has studied "are using digital to turn themselves into really fast caterpillars."

What does all this mean for CIOs? For one thing, it's time to

Next Page



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.

Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators. Read our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue today.

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
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 8 / 12   >   >>
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
6/25/2014 | 6:24:11 AM
Re: Amazing
The digital era has simplified a lot of work in different fields including government cooperation's, educational institutions and health care organizations. CDO and CMO partnering up with CIO will make work much faster and effective in the eventual long run. Companies are only left with the responsibility of investing in technology that will advance the company and bring about profits. This technology should also be properly and to be effective.
tjgkg
50%
50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 6:44:11 PM
Re: CDO turf
I wish that inspiring and leading were at the top a C-levels to-do lists however it is not. It isn't even on their radar in most companies. In fact in many companies you cannot even approach them unless you go through the chain of command. To me most of them are just politicians who are looking out for their own skin and glory. You are correct when you say the doers will find a way around them to get things done. I think that is the rule these days.
WaqasAltaf
50%
50%
WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 1:22:31 PM
Re: CDO turf
Susan

"why do you think it is that so many organizations struggle so much with execution and implementation?"

Lack of persistence. People start off with things but cannot keep their focus on the tasks and monitor each and every aspect of it regularly. That is where things go wrong.
WaqasAltaf
50%
50%
WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 1:04:31 PM
Re: CDO turf
Angelfuego, yes. Determination is the biggest skill in my opinion. The lack of follow-up is the factor which often results in failure to achieve the desired objectives.
larryloeb
50%
50%
larryloeb,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/24/2014 | 11:26:33 AM
Re: CDO turf
@tjgkg

If C-level positions can inspire and lead the folk that actually do things, they have a useful position in the enterprise. It's obvious enough to be valid.

But if they don't do that, the doers will find a way around them to get things done.
tjgkg
50%
50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 11:08:47 AM
Re: CDO turf
I agree with you. It is becoming like there are too many chiefs and not enough indians at this point. And having another C-Level person is sure to cause more politics which corporations have more than enough of. I wish companies hired more regular workers and let the existing chiefs actually do their jobs.
Hospice_Houngbo
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
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
100%
0%
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
50%
50%
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.
<<   <   Page 8 / 12   >   >>
Transformative CIOs Organize for Success
Transformative CIOs Organize for Success
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.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and trends on InformationWeek.com
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.