I just read an article advocating the creation of a marketing technology office. The suggestion is that channel and customer-facing technologies would be owned by the MTO, the Marketing Technology Office. Frankly this brings me to two conclusions. Let me share those:
IT = Business and Business = IT
Most of what we do today has information technology embedded into it, and as such, IT is percolating the business. So, do we still need an IT department as we have known it in the past? Frankly, I believe not. As employees get more and more IT literate, as IT becomes core and center to many businesses, all members of the enterprise should be responsible for their portion of IT.
If you look at it, 97 percent of money is bits and bytes on computers. Banking is managing these assets and maximizing their return. Information technology is used to track the financial assets, to make decisions on where to invest them and to record the transactions.
Marketing is not different from that. IT interacts with customers, prospects and partners, and tries to convince them to acquire the enterprise products and/or services. And marketing increasingly uses information technology to do that. The only difference maybe is that most of the technologies used consist in social media and SaaS offerings (Google Analytics, CRM etc.).
IT is working closely with the business to jointly deliver what is required for the bank. Why do things need to be different with marketing? I don’t get it.
Rather than making a special case for marketing, I would advocate we address the integration of business and IT across the board.
IT — the guardian of information and services
The danger of having departments spinning off their own IT environments is that each one ends-up using its own tools and its own information, killing the end-to-end view. We need a guardian of the digital information, and in my mind, IT should play that role, ensuring consistency in information sources and tools, accessibility across the organization and common management and governance mechanisms.
I believe that should be the next role of IT. Four key functions should be performed by IT:
- Lead the cross-enterprise governance related to information, tools and associated business processes. Ensure ownership and compliance as far as information is concerned.
- Ensure a consistent set of information addressing all aspects of the business is available for the enterprise. This is an expansion of the master data management role IT should already be playing.
- Establish an enterprise-wide IT architecture. Source and/or develop consistent tools to manage, analyze and expand the information. Please note, I started with source, as I believe as many tools as possible should be sourced externally and only where none can be found, internal developments should take place.
- Ensure cross-enterprise security while exposing the business teams to the information assets and tools available in other parts of the enterprise and its eco-system
Business and IT are merging, but there still needs to be a traffic cop. And that is a role IT should play. About six months ago, I wrote a blog entry containing following equation CIO = CBO + CDO + CTO. CBO stands for Chief Brokering Officer (the sourcing of services), CDO for Chief Data Officer (The I from Information would have been better, but then we were back at CIO), and CTO stands for Chief Technology Officer, as the CIO is the one who should guide the enterprise on the best use of IT across the board.
I do not believe it makes sense for one department to run its own IT separately as it only fragments IT at a moment it needs to be fully aligned across the company and its eco-system. But IT’s role in the enterprise is changing drastically. And as we forget the term cloud, because it’s just going to be the way IT is done, IT has a huge opportunity to become core and center to the business. Will the IT department in general and the CIO in particular grasp the opportunity? What do you think?