Jan 31, 2017

5 Ways IT Can Drive Digital Innovation

by Digital Marketing Institute

We are on the verge of a fourth industrial revolution.

Over the decades, societies have progressed from steam power to the division of labor, right through to the IT and electronic age. Now, most are firmly cemented in the era of datafication, hyper-connectivity, and digital labor.

These changes have had a huge impact on the IT industry which is evolving rapidly with advances in digital technologies. For those in the industry, this has created significant challenges, coupled with great opportunities.

While five years ago, the IT landscape seemed a little bleak, the digital evolution is providing a much-needed boost to the industry as it presents new and exciting ways to think about and interact, with technology.

"It took the telephone 78 years to get to 100m users. It took Candy Crush one year." - Matthew Lerner

1) Promote Leadership

As CIOs take ownership of the digital transformation of their organization, innovation, agility, and vision are critical to enable true digital success.

In recent years customer experience and digital business have become has become the priority for organizations meaning that many are ratcheting up technology investments to execute new marketing strategies.

When IT priorities were surveyed in Computerworld's Forecast 2016, 13% identified marketing technology as a new area of spending. In addition, 16% believed improving customer satisfaction/experience was the main objective, putting that goal at No. 4 on a list of spending priorities, up from last place a year earlier.

With customer experience at the heart of digital transformation, the IT department plays a key role in how digital their company is and the impact it can have on customers. For the CIO, while technology is integral to success, it's also about a clear business strategy, integrated operational processes and metrics to become more strategic and enable an overall view of customers in a holistic way.

2) Manage Big Data

Big data sets offer large waves of information that can be analyzed to uncover patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. For a business, this data can tell you a huge amount about the way people engage with your brand and business online.

Data is growing faster than ever, and by 2020, around 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the globe. Due to the sheer volume, one of the biggest issues is the amount of data that can be collected on a daily and even hourly basis. With so much vital data being collected, it has never been more important for IT departments to manage the data to ensure the marketing team can act upon the information available.

Big data and digital are entwined as many use digital platforms to reach customers in new and innovative ways. The leaders in this cutthroat digital realm will be the organizations that know precisely what data they need to collect and what they should do with it. A methodical integration between IT and digital is the way to ensure your organization is making the most from the data it collects to gain an all-important competitive advantage.

3) Forge Collaborations

With digital innovation increasingly being driven by consumer demand, a collaborative and symbiotic relationship needs to exist between CIOs and CMOs to drive business, create more engagement, and develop brand awareness in such a competitive landscape.

In a technology landscape of constant change, marketing creates incredible opportunities for those ready to capitalize on its opportunities. As a discipline, digital marketing facilitates an expanding share of IT investment, and the interdependence between the expertise, and indeed manpower, of IT and marketing departments, will continue to grow. Together, the two entities can create a powerful combination, and through collaboration, they can drive more value they can drive as one.

However, tensions do exist between CIOs and CMOs as their roles are traditionally very different. An analysis by Deloitte found that 43% of CMOs feel that the technology department process is too slow and not aligned to the speed of digital marketing. While nearly half of CIOs believe that marketing makes promises to the business without getting their agreement or buy-in. These different perspectives create tension within the business and can create obstacles to digital transformation.

The key to rectifying this is that both roles need to evolve towards converging skillsets with the customer at the core of their thinking to drive corporate initiatives. An evolved CMO requires them to keep abreast of emerging technologies and be competent in analytics. In tandem, the CIO needs to move away from an operation lead and internally focused vision to one of building visibility for the impact of the department's strategic business growth.

4) Embrace Job Evolution

Embrace Job Evolution | 5 Ways IT Can Drive Digital Innovation

As the harnessing of IT technologies becomes an increasingly important part of an organization's digital marketing initiative, the CIO needs to drive the capabilities of its team to ensure development, growth, and long-lasting success. This striking shift in the landscape may mean that jobs will change and new roles will be created, or current jobs will evolve.

When it comes to evolving, IDG Connect outlines a host of predicted job roles across a variety of industries for 2017 and beyond. Due to the ever-tightening integration of IT and digital marketing, a new approach is essential. According to industry experts, roles such as Chief Data Officer (CDO), Digital Training Officer (DTO), Cyber Security Specialist, Talent Director, and B2B Virtual Reality Engineer will prove effective for businesses in the not so distant future.

While these roles are suggested, the point is that as IT progresses and the lines are blurred between information technology and digital, businesses will have to evolve their mindset and organizational structure to thrive, success, and survive.

5) Fill Skills Gaps

According to Gartner, IT professionals indicate that their investment priorities, infrastructure changes, skills development and business-IT interactions are in flux and many executives are unsure how their IT organization will make it through any digital transformation.

When it comes to in-house capabilities a KPMG survey found that an alarming 65% of companies believe a lack of talent will prevent them keeping up with the pace of change – 10% up on last year. For CIOs and their departments, the biggest areas of concern in regards to talent are big data and analytics with 40% of IT leaders feeling pressure in this area.

On a global scale the shortage of professionals with digital skills is well known and reported with almost every CEO and CHRO reporting that their companies are not developing skills fast enough. The key to filling these gaps along with retaining the talent your organization already has, is to invest in a learning and development program with the added value of certification that suits the needs of your business and staff to ensure they have the right skills across IT, marketing and customer service to drive the business.

IT Innovation Champion: T-Mobile

IT Innovation Champion: T-Mobile | 5 Ways IT Can Drive Digital Innovation

Over the past four years, T-Mobile US has turned itself into the fastest-growing carrier behind T&T and Verizon. Its customer based has more than doubled in this time and their network has significantly expanded. So, how did they achieve this?

One of the drivers for this success was a company-wide approach to digital transformation across all relevant departments IT, marketing, customer service, and sales. For the IT department, their CIO looked at how technology could fit into T-Mobile’s vision and cost-effectiveness goals. Automation played a significant part, with over 83% of test scripts automated to free up time for the company's IT team while consistent and streamlined testing methods boosted efficiency and reduced the possibility of error. In order to facilitate this new way of thinking, T-Mobile hired experts they didn't have in-house for every stage of software development.

As a result, the IT department now works faster and smarter. The rewards of these new processes and hiring in-house talent, positively impacted on marketing and enabled a superior experience for their customers and drove personalization throughto each and every customer through targeted offers and relevant content drawn from high-speed analysis of data.

In tandem with this, a new CEO was appointed who set about changing the company's culture. He did this by addressing his 50,000 employees on a personal level, insisting that every time he spoke publicly to the company, all employees would be invited to watch. His goal is to '"Say thank you and help them see that their behavior and work has driven the culture of the company that's changed the industry and the whole world. It's a bit of a love affair."

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