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Thinking Like a Marketer: Tips from the CMO to the CIO

February 22, 2017 by Brian Kardon

Today’s CIOs are at a crossroads. On the one hand, they are challenged with leading technology innovation across their organization. On the other, they must stay accountable to troubleshooting and day-to-day operational efficiency. The pressures of finding new ways to do more with company data while also keeping the lights on are becoming overwhelming. According to our recent CIO Outlook report, only 11 percent of a CIO’s time is spent on innovation planning due to other responsibilities.

These factors aren’t all that different from what keeps a CMO up at night. There’s the push-pull of staying ahead of the competition while instituting changes that can improve processes and integrate efforts.

With technology investments in particular, the pressures boil down to cost and ease of implementation, adoption, and effective use. While marketers are often burdened with searching for the right people who are experienced with a given technology stack, CIOs have to think about technology that is intuitive and effortless to adopt enterprise-wide. Fortunately, with UCaaS, deployment and implementation can be simplified – with the right technology.

When voice, video, and messaging converge into a single app, one with the look and feel consistent with consumer applications, employees will not only reach for the platform more often, but they will get more out of the experience once they do. And because unified communications also reduces costs and saves IT teams time otherwise spent on routine upgrades, maintenance, and eleventh-hour requests for technical support, the decision to invest in this technology will make IT leaders look good.

All of this reinforces the decision to move communications to the cloud, but the decision is only half the battle. The next phase is communicating the rollout and leading implementation: two areas where CIOs often fall short. For a new technology to take root, marketing can lend some best practices. After all, we’re in the business of selling ideas and shaping perception, right?Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 9.46.58 AM

[Learn how to be a cloud champion with this CIO checklist] 

CMOs are champions of communication. They are just as much responsible for rallying a workforce behind a brand message as they are for extending that message to customers and prospects to meet revenue goals. More than ever, they too are sharing the responsibility of turning company data into actionable insights for the benefit of the enterprise. Though new c-suite roles have been created to help drive digital transformation initiatives, the CIO and the CMO share more in common than ever before. What’s more, CIOs stand to benefit tremendously from CMOs when it comes to bringing change to the organization.

Take a page from marketing’s playbook with these considerations:

  • Put on your marketing hat. Bringing in a new technology to improve the day-to-day work experience for employees? These things should be celebrated, but too often they’re swept under the rug. Think more critically about how technological advancements are communicated internally so that the reasons for the change are clear and the benefits are even clearer. Can difficult processes be summarized in layman’s terms? Can the rollout be shared visually? If you can learn to tell your story in a compelling way that addresses the end benefits, employees will be more receptive to change. Think of developing materials that highlight the advantages of technology. Simplify FAQs for those that your team spends the most time troubleshooting. Create a visual how-to guide if it isn’t offered by the vendor. This will save time and repeated explanation in the long run while cementing your role as an innovator throughout the enterprise.
  • Rally the troops. When you get teams excited about a new technology, set up systems to capture their feedback. If you create feedback loops – formal and informal – to document the praise and constructive criticism, you will be able to see a more complete picture of breakdowns that may occur and where improvements can be made. This also begins to create a useful repository of contacts and specific use cases to help you measure against performance KPIs and communicate the IT impact on a larger scale.
  • Build cross-functional relationships. Marketers are very familiar with building cross-functional relationships, working closely with sales to nurture leads into opportunities and increasingly relying on IT for database support. Given the interdependence among members of today’s c-suite, design your implementation plans with shared accountability metrics. Build a manifesto, sign a contract; do whatever it takes to show you mean business. And, be open to structural changes that enable information to flow more freely between teams as the way businesses do work evolves.
  • Think beyond numbers. CIOs are comfortable with metrics to measure success. But this is only part of the equation. Qualitative analysis should inform the direction CIOs take when it comes to UX. Feedback from employee conversations and observing how workers interact with technology helps shape a stronger understanding about the impact IT can have on streamlining operations. Though you’re still responsible for all the mechanics behind the scenes, face time is still crucial to design systems that work long term.

Together, CMOs and CIOs can champion digital transformation initiatives for the enterprise. United in common purpose, they can tackle new ways of applying data to business operations in ways that empower the modern, mobile workforce with smarter, more agile applications in the cloud. But that’s just the beginning. Ninety-six percent of CIOs will have a formal cloud strategy in place by the end of 2017. It’s what they choose to do with that strategy – and how it’s rolled out – that will leave a lasting impact. They’ll maneuver AI, chatbots, and applications for productivity and analytics. They’ll explore VR. They’ll connect employees across the globe. And, with a little inspiration from the CMO, CIOs can make their achievements heard and their innovations felt throughout the enterprise.




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