by Nathan Williams

The CIO-CMO partnership part 2: making it happen

Jul 01, 20123 mins
IT Leadership

Okay, so perhaps you think it’s time to take aside your CMO and talk about working together.

Here are some tips for how to get the most out of working together and how to set up productive collaboration in your respective teams.

1. Creating the right cross-functional team New customer experience requires new working partners. In a world where technology is continually shortening time to market, the threat from competition accelerates with this.

Especially, competition from smaller, more nimble organisations and start ups.

Several times I have experienced talking about new products within large organisations, only to see those ideas manifest in the market from elsewhere overnight.

So how to form a team to cope with this pace of competition?

The answer is multidisciplinary; innovation must happen on three fronts:

– Product: Which will require designers, product managers and engineers – Distribution: Getting the product out there, which will require marketing and agency help – Business model: Requiring business owners and strategists

Innovation is often thought of only in terms of product and business model, yet distribution is key.

Think about LinkedIn, it wouldn’t work without people in it. Distribution is often as critical as the product itself.

In fairness, this team encompasses more than the respective teams of the CIO and CMO, but the opportunity here is to lead.

2. Modifying your working environment No we know who, let’s tackle how, as in how this team will operate. In large siloed organisations there is one simple answer: work in the same room.

Start-ups do not at the outset work in large offices, they work in a modest room. This enables constant communication and rapid decision-making.

A team working this closely together can kill the bad ideas quickly, with minimal process, accelerate the good ideas, make changes on the fly and ship quickly.

3. Working practices and getting to market fast A co-located team can often operate in real time and the difference is staggering.

Over the last six months I have been involved with several large businesses in different sectors that have taken this approach, and never in my experience, have I seen such businesses ship new product so quickly before.

Many have adopted newer ways of Agile processes, I agree that Agile is nothing new, yet many start-ups are following what could be described as Agile light, a stripped down, fast to market approach.

A good place to start is reading around the Lean Startup Movement championed by Harvard’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Eric Ries

4. Working with external agencies Agencies can play an important role in this new way of working for two good reasons:

– By selecting the right agency you will hopefully find a solid mix of marketing, UX and technology expertise that mean they can technically support your team as well as bring an external perspective to developments. – An external party can play the valuable role of facilitator. It can be hard to change a working culture overnight, so by adding an at least semi-impartial party to the team, the transition from one way of working to another can be an easier one.