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Customer Focused CIOs Should Avoid Bimodal IT

Rob Daleman
Posted by Rob Daleman VP, Corporate Marketing Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 17:22

Rob brings over 18 years of industry experience in technology marketing – both direct and channel, to his position at Quadient. Previously, Rob led Marketing at Avaya Canada, go to market for medium businesses at Dell Canada and brings marketing, finance, manufacturing and logistics experience from his time at Maple Leaf Foods. An avid composer and musician, Rob continues to combine digital and social media to drive awareness and consideration in the B2B marketplace. Rob holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business.

Customer Experience Update

Last week, we examined the pressures on the CMO to deliver faster, more relevant innovation to drive customer engagement across a growing number of channels, and how these pressures continue to lead to a proliferation of Martech software acquisitions that are disconnected from traditional IT systems. In fact, reviewing marketing spend on traditional vs. new forms of advertising make it clear – CMOs continue to transition away from traditional marketing channels to put their time, attention and budget into digital marketing. According to emarketer, investment in digital marketing channels continues to grow sharply. By 2019 digital marketing will make up more than 50% of all advertising spend, with over 60% of that amount coming from mobile ads.

CMO Ad Spend by Media Type

CIOs, unfortunately, do not have the benefit of being able to transition as quickly away from traditional IT systems. They must continue to support the overall business and deliver on the entire customer journey by maintaining legacy systems and traditional IT.  It is no wonder then, that according to Mckinsey, the top two business initiatives that IT facilitates are:

  • improving the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes
  • providing managers and LOB with the information needed to support planning and decision making

In 2014, Gartner recommended what has become a somewhat controversial concept to help CIOs manage these competing priorities – Bimodal IT. From

What is driving this intense need for additional innovation? The transition to digital and the rapid adoption of new channels and tools by the CMO is an important factor. On the surface, bimodal IT provides an interesting answer to the dilemma of supporting legacy systems and driving innovation. However, several arguments are being made that bimodal IT is becoming an outdated model.

In their research, Forrester proposes that bimodal is falling out of sync with the increasing pace of innovation needed to drive CIO success. They argue that there is no space for slow IT anywhere in the business, and that modernizing existing platforms and processes is the most important method of supporting rapid innovation.

CIO Insight offers additional feedback, suggesting that the need to support innovation and provide stability in existing systems is not new – these competing forces go back to the dawn of enterprise IT. What has changed is the pace of innovation. But author Mark. A. Campbell argues that:

“what has succeeded without failure throughout IT history still works today; namely, nimble companies that put true innovation at the core of their business using whatever mode of creativity is needed to exceed their customers’ needs. Today we are surrounded by great examples of companies that are reshaping IT by delivering agility and stability like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, or LinkedIn (any guesses how many of these use Bimodal IT?). But those examples are all newbies! What about more established companies? Well, simply put, “get hip” or go the way of other established companies like Compaq, E.F. Hutton, Wang, Blockbuster or PanAm.”

In his 2015 article for Forbes, Jason Bloomberg also offered a view the IT needs to focus on integrating innovation into the heart of their business. His concern with splitting IT organizations into a mode 1 team focused on “keeping the lights on” and mode 2 team focused on innovation is the long-term viability of core systems. In this framework, it is difficult to get top talent and the required budgets in place to ensure that mainframe and core systems attract the best talent in your organization. In the article, Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley observes:

“Most technology narratives found in popular media center around cloud, Big Data, social and mobile. These are interesting enough. The reality, however, is that the world’s largest organizations—including the top global financial institutions—run on the mainframe. They always have, and they always will.”

While bimodal IT offers a model for supporting and accelerating innovation inside the organization (in many ways driven by the CMOs vision) – separating IT into two modes of working does not eliminate the CMO / CIO innovation gap.  Instead, it brings that responsibility directly into the domain of the CIO. While there is strong benefit to the CIO having visibility over the innovation gap – the reality is that CIOs are directly involved in the purchase of Martech only 3% of the time – meaning that while they may own the gap in a bimodal IT model, they have very little influence over the Martech stack being accumulated in most businesses today.

Primary Decision Maker for Marketing Technology

In his May 2017 article for Computerworld, Clint Boulton also echoes the difficulty that IT organizations will face in splitting their teams into two modes of working.

It is no wonder then, that leaders are concerned about their organizations preparedness for meeting digitally disruptive competition. Only 13% of executives felt that their organizations were very prepared, while 45% believed their organizations were not yet ready to face digitally disruptive competition.

Regardless of the role of the CIO and CMO, it is imperative that the two work together to focus on what their organizations value most – the customer. The customer is at the centre of every interaction, and implementing digital transformation while centralizing multi-channel communications is one of the most powerful projects that an organization can take on in better supporting their clients.

Omnichannel Design

While CMOs continue to feel the pressure to bolt on new cloud applications and Martech platforms to deliver innovation and support new channels – they are putting enormous pressure on IT teams to keep up. In many instances, they are breaking away and creating communication silos that are difficult to keep consistent, brand compliant and legally compliant over time.

Though many may not be aware, Customer Communications Management (CCM) is a powerful ally to both the CIO and CMO. Modern CCM platforms have the benefit of being able to handle the personalization of complex communications, they enable internal workers to collaborate on the creation of communications, and deliver them across a multitude of channels. In short, CCM allows leaders to leverage the talent that they already have in house to deliver on new innovation – reducing the gap between mode 1 and mode 2 IT, and allowing marketing and IT teams to work together to support innovation faster and smarter.

If you are interested in learning more, check out the following free whitepapers from Quadient:

The Convergence of Customer Communications Management (CCM) and Customer Experience Management (CXM)

The New Role of the CIO and COO