Marketers are focused squarely on revenue growth and speed to market. They have more data and understanding about their customers than ever before and need to create compelling and lasting experiences that drive loyalty and increase customer spend. There is no question that digital products are core to this effort. In fact, because technology is so central to innovating digital products, Gartner predicts that CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs by 2017.
At the same time that CMOs are looking for ways to innovatively apply technology to drive growth, CIOs are struggling with flat or reducing budgets where a greater percentage of spend is devoted to maintaining the legacy environment and delivering core services. And, the IT environment has grown increasingly diverse and complex, which in turn creates new risks that must be managed. So while CIOs want to support innovation they often lack the resources and the bandwidth to match the time to market needs of the CMO.
The easy answer is to just recognize the goals of the CMO and CIO aren’t aligned, leading to a situation that may be likened to a romantic comedy or at worst, a foreign film without subtitles. What is required though is more of a summer blockbuster with a bias for action and a clear outcome. In fact, CMOs that spend time working with IT to help them understand the business goal and make IT a partner in the process report that they are seeing tangible rewards. Some companies have even created a new organization to bridge the gap between marketing and IT. Others have created integrated product teams to break down the silos and completely align goals. The challenge remains one of time to market. Marketing cycles are measured in weeks or months and IT cycles may be months or even years.
This situation is complicated by the fact that we are living in an era where the shelf life of a new product is fairly short. Companies can no longer rest on the laurels of something that’s currently working. In light of heightened consumer expectations and increased competition, if you’re not continually innovating, you will see someone else do it and erode your customer base and revenue.
This was the main theme that we explored last night in New York at the CMO Council Roundtable that was sponsored by 3Pillar. We had a room full of media executives from well-established companies discussing topics like:
At 3Pillar, we believe the answers to all these questions are deep-rooted in a company’s approach to new software product development. Our own experience working with companies like PBS, BlackArrow, Sky, Eloqua and Northrop Grumman has shown us that overcoming the challenges requires a focus on solving the right business problem, understanding the desired business outcomes and creating a clear governance model to support decision making. With this business outcome focus we can then align the product vision, roadmap and engineering to focus on a shared set of goals with a clear ROI. Software product development requires great design and engineering but it also requires the ability to first understand the business. At the end of the day, it’s not about the product, it’s about what the product does to support your business.