Balancing the Collaboration between Business and IT

Patrick Desbrow, CIO, VP of Engineering, Crown Peak
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Patrick Desbrow, CIO, VP of Engineering, Crown Peak

Patrick Desbrow, CIO, VP of Engineering, Crown Peak

Defining Trends for the Present Industry

The two most significant trends that impact our industry are mobile computing and social media marketing.

"IT leaders are expected to support all of the new project initiatives while reducing the cost of the existing legacy solutions"

Mobile First

It is sometimes difficult to consider new ways of working. The desktop has been the primary way for corporate citizens to work and be most productive. The idea of moving to a smaller more mobile device to perform one’s duties can seen less then optimal. The reality is this trend started a long time ago. Where do employees look to for emails, messaging, pictures, and video? Combine that with the fact that people are working more hours each week and not just at their desks anymore. They are at home, on the train, in coffee shops, and at client sites. In addition, a new generation of employees is in the workplace that has been raised with mobile devices. Today they expect that all the tools and technology including word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software are all responsive and adaptive across all device platforms. This means software companies have to consider designing for mobile devices (a.k.a. Mobile First) as they are creating the next versions of their applications.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is the new way people connect on the Internet. For decades, most people were spread out in small communities all across the World Wide Web. Social media sites have brought people together into super communities that act like virtualized gatherings. These supper communities are themed in ways that attract very specific visitors and dissuade other visitors that do not represent that community. Facebook started as a way to find old school mates. LinkedIn is a social community for business professionals to network. Twitter enables companies, celebrities, and everyone else to send broadcasted announcement targeted to followers and tagged for trend-ability.

These new super communities create an amazing opportunity for marketers. They have access to very large groups of potential customers that are already segmented and profiled by the social media sites. Companies can deliver much targeted messaging to potential customers. Watch for your favorite brands advertising drinks, flowers, MBA degrees, and celebrity product endorsements. However, marketers also have to be careful with their messaging. This audience is listening and they will respond in real time in both positive and negative ways.

Addressing the Modern Needs

The goal for most IT organizations today is to continue to improve. That usually means performing faster, at a lower cost, and with the flexibility to adapt to the modern needs of the business. Some of the challenges that need to be addressed include:

1. Meeting IT staffing needs (Developers, Operations Engineers, Support Desk)

2. Providing collaboration tools for teams in different locations and time zones

3. Creating rapid development tool in modern SaaS platforms

4. Enabling integrations/extensions into the tools that developers prefer to work in

5. Evolve the development languages to support cross platform consolidation (one codebase for desktop, mobile across all devices)

Data Integration Issues

This has been a problem for large organizations for over two decades. Data is distributed across the organization in separate ‘line of business’ systems. This could include transactional data in sales &fulfillment systems, accounting systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

Extract, transform, and load (ETL) technologies have had some success pulling data from each of these separate business systems and consolidating volumes of information into a single repository. Then, business intelligent (BI) technologies have been used to organize and mine this data to create reports, scorecards, and customer profiles.

This is often a large project in the organization and can be costly and time consuming. Any next generation solution needs to allow all of these technologies to work together with limited setup and a lower total cost of ownership (TOC). Perhaps, one day there is be just one technology, one solution, one system that collects, organized, stores, aggregates, and reports on both customer data and all of the products and services they use within the organization.

Leveraging the Right Technology

The goal for most companies is to find more customers. In most cases, they have built sophisticated sales and marketing departments to find prospective customers that are in the market. These groups deliver personalized messaging that invites, engages, and persuades potential buyers to purchase products and services over time. A delighted customer will buy more than once and perhaps become a champion of the brand. Think of classic brands like Coca Cola, BMW, and Rolex to name a few.

However, the cost of acquiring a new customer can be very expensive. Great technology enables and empowers companies to streamline their sales and marketing process by leveraging digital experience management solutions such as CrownPeak for Content management, Marketo for marketing automation, and ActiveStandards for compliance/ regulatory concerns.

There are a few areas where the promise of technology has not come to fruition just yet. First, the speed of technology change creates great concern for any technology executive committing to a large spent for a new software solution. The risk of the new technology is hard to mitigate if the web browsers are continuously changing (a.k.a. Evergreen) or if the new software does not support older browsers (a.k.a. Backward Compatibility) currently installed across your company.

Second, the cost of technology is a constant concern. IT leaders are expected to support all of the new project initiatives while reducing the cost of the existing legacy solutions. There has to be controls in place to ensure both types of projects are working together. IT leaders have to develop a project portfolio mindset in their group to accomplish both of these goals. Portfolio management software exists but it can be costly and time consuming to setup and maintain.

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