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As vendors have begun to woo lines of business, Big Data initiatives are creeping into the enterprise through the backdoor, unbeknownst to IT. The marketing department—specifically, the chief marketing officer (CMO)—is a prime target for vendors offering a self-service tool that promises unprecedented customer insight. Unfortunately, it’s a scenario that jeopardizes the CIO’s role as master of analytics and business data.
We recently brought together representatives from IT and marketing for our webcast “CIOs and CMOs: Who’s biggest on Big Data?” excerpted below. Technology analyst Michael Krieger hosted the webcast and was joined by Toby Redshaw, CEO of Kevington Advisors (and former CIO of American Express), and Marlene Williamson, CMO of BigMachines.
The wide-ranging discussion covered the pace and scope of change brought by Big Data, and the way it’s changing the roles of leaders in IT and the business.
Q: LOBs are bypassing IT and sourcing technologies directly. Is this putting a strain on the relationship between IT and marketing?
Marlene Williamson: I think that comes down to the fact that the roles are changing and the demands and the accountability are changing. Marketing is being held more accountable to measure, track, and analyze what’s driving revenue. The CIOs’ roles have been changing, too, as they become more strategic and more business oriented. I think because of that change, you’re running into more conflict.
Toby Redshaw: Marlene’s right that it’s just ripe for conflict, because there are areas where marketing gets approached directly, where they have to do things for the business and they can’t wait on IT to catch up—especially in areas where IT is underperforming, where maybe they have a huge legacy boat anchor and they’ve not been stepping up with marketing appropriately. Honestly, over the last 15 years, marketing never ranked ahead of sales or operations, or sometimes even HR for IT attention.
Q: Does that just put the CIO in a role of procurement manager?
TR: No. While Big Data is conceptually simple, it’s very, very different than what we’ve done before. It’s of a scale and a complexity that we haven’t done before. You will ruin the entire thing if you are not absolutely obsessed about the data supply chain and the quality of the data.
Q: Is there agreement as to what Big Data really is in the first place?
MW: I don’t think there is. That’s because it’s still in its infancy. It depends on the company and what your business objectives are. Certainly, there’s a lot of noise in the market. You’ve got structured versus unstructured data. You’ve got different feeds coming from all over the place. There is no one definition of how you spell Big Data.
TR: It’s a really difficult sell to say, “I need 50 million bucks to go build a Big Data stack, because we’re going to find some really interesting things and do some great analysis, and we’ll be able to keep tabs on online advocacy and consumer sentiment, which we know drive purchases and brand.” Then the board member says, “Specifically what?” You go, “We can tell you after we build it.”
Q: Should LOBs be looking to IT to help source decisions?
MW: Well, how many executives do you know who say, “I just read this article about XYZ—check it out,” and come flying over every single day? I certainly get that as a CMO, and I know Toby gets it as a CIO. I just want it to work. I’m not the expert. I look to my CIOs to advise me and be that partner.
Q: What would your advice be to bridge this gap to get everyone back on the same track?
TR: It’s easy. It’s a two-day scary meeting. You bring in somebody like Geoffrey Moore and say, “In four hours give us the next two years of current—and next two years of cool—marketing capabilities that are backed by technology.” Then you show an architectural map of all the garbage you’ve got in technology that’s attached to marketing. Then you look at how many people have budget control over all of this stuff. Then you do a fourth step with a smaller group, saying, “We’ve seen our own spaghetti, and we’ve seen what great looks like: What are we missing, and how do we behave differently, and how do we get tighter as a co-team to go fix that?” It’s very easy to say—it’s a difficult meeting to actually run and change the way you partner between the two.