By Ytzik Aranov, Partner, COO, Social2B International, LLC
Historically, a key component of the value chain of every enterprise was the technology department. It has changed names over the years from Business Equipment, to Computer Department, to Management Information Systems (MIS), to Information Technology (IT), etc., and many companies have ended up with a combination of these acronyms / departments.
We also came up with a variety of titles for the head honcho who ran these departments. Everything from Managers, to VPs, to CIOs, CTOs, to Directors, etc., all with varying combinations of abbreviations to “specialize” their purview.
Today, we find many organizations have developed “justifiable” sister entities with independent heads that are at the same organizational level as the IT Department. These include Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Data Intelligence Officer and various “Intelligence” hybrid divisions and many more. Let’s not get wrapped up in the far-out titles like Vice President of Pop Culture, Social Media/Community Superstar, Freelance PR Maestro, Chief Happiness Officer, Systems Wrangler, etc., ok, you get the point.
Understandably, some companies really wish to segregate Intelligence from IT and separate technological innovation from legacy operational systems. That’s fine; whatever floats the enterprise’s boat, works.
It’s when online activity – in all its various forms – started happening that things really went haywire. The most common battle fought today in most, well, many, companies, is “Who Owns the Web”. The Web requires technology, right? Right. It requires systems, hardware, software and technical expertise, right? Right. Software? Yup.
So, in the beginnings of online communications and the early days of the Web, everything went through the IT Department. They had the resources, only they understood the “Soul of the Machine”. So things went on really well for a while, until GUI’s (graphical user interface) started to become very sophisticated and colorful. That’s when companies (not the IT departments, mind you) started to realize that the look & feel was just as important as “being there online”.
That’s when they started calling for designers to get involved, then marketers, then advertisers, etc.
To cut a long story short, before the CIO knew it, other departments were calling the shots on how the company’s online presence should look and operate. With the advent of everyday tools to build your own websites, email campaigns and interactive platforms, we are now in “OCG” – Online Creative Gridlock. The CIO knows that IT owns the Web because they own the hardware, well, sort of, if you forget about Cloud computing, and platform hosting. The Product Fulfillment people decide when products are ready to post online, so they own the Web too. Finance decides how to price the products, so they are owners. While Legal says you cannot use that hot slogan on the website, Marketing is already posting product release pictures all over the web. Let’s not forget that Sales is already taking orders online and at least 5 different departments are sending our mass emails to the entire company email mailing list! And companies all over are violating regulatory regulations while doing the above! Everyone owns the Web.
It’s no wonder that to post the announcement of a new product (no, not the planning, just the online Brand) takes 10 different departments, multiple teams of designers (each department by the way, has their own Web designer), and multiple channels of approval ad different C-levels just to get it launched. Not to mention changing the color of the price text!
All the above is “BSM” – Before Social Media! In the Social Media era we now have complete autonomy of each and every department in the organization to plan, design, launch a product, engage customers, make the sale, support customers, socialize reviews and feedback, destroy a competitor, alienate an industry, violate regulations and say really stupid things to millions of people. All this without any other department in the organization being involved, on a miniscule budget and with instant results!
This is the nightmare every CIO & CTO has today. Not to mention that Legal, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, etc., are also barraged by this chaos. All of sudden, the company has lost its consistent voice, its homogenous culture, its adherence to process, procedure and principles, and its unique and consistent Brand Image.
The CIO is tasked with the job of ensuring that the enterprise is fully and effectively supported with the computing power sufficient to capture corporate data, convert it to information and deliver intelligence to the organization to act upon it.
Savvy CIOs & CTO’s today understand the partnership they must develop with their Chief Marketing Officer since the CMO is primarily the one tasked with crafting & nurturing the Brand. And it all boils down to the Brand. The one who owns the Brand, owns the media and the medium. CIOs need to anticipate their CMO & enterprise’s needs by identifying tools, apps, mobile channels, converters, platforms, etc., that fit within an overall technology architecture for the organization. Specifically, the CIO must build an “Enterprise Social Architecture” that:
- Is cross-departmental
- Is scalable up, down and across the entire organization
- All components thereof, are measurable
- All activity, campaigns, etc., are mapped to KPIs and to the enterprise ROI
- Maps to every value chain component in the enterprise
- Interacts with the entire Supply Chain & Demand Chain
- Provides for customized departmental branding
- Allows the Chairman, the CEO / CFO and most importantly, the CMO, with the power to ensure Brand Integrity & consistent messaging
- Is wrapped around a platform of processes, procedures, policies and crisis management tools to effectively run the enterprise.
CIO’s that work with their C-level peers – the CMO being the “Brand Guardian” and a key partner – to architect an Enterprise Social Architecture will, in the end, win the battle since they become the Brand Enablers while empowering their CMOs to safeguard and empower the reach of their company Brand.