by P. Tracy Currie

Ladies and gentlemen, restart your IT funding engines

Oct 03, 2017
IT LeadershipOutsourcingTechnology Industry

Stronger collaboration between marketing and IT can be the road to success.

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Credit: Thinkstock

Now that Google, Apple, Facebook and other muscle brands have revealed plans to enter the crowded field to win the highly coveted and competitive telecommunications, media and entertainment (TME) market, time is running out to restart your IT funding engines to ensure the tech geeks down the cube-riddled hall are firing on all cylinders.

This should be done to a large extent by revving up internal funding sources that can transform IT departments from cost centers to revenue generators.

Consumers in the driver’s seat

In today’s world, consumers have more influence and control than ever over brand experiences through personal preferences and buying behaviors. Consequently, TME companies must abandon the traditional, pre-digital thinking of steering the brand experience from within to better targeting and nurturing existing customers while also attracting new ones. Thanks to data analytics, insights-as-a-service, social listening and other tools, IT and marketing professionals can now form a stronger collaboration and react much more quickly to market opportunities and competitive threats, and build top-line revenue.

Uncovering internal sources of funding

Against this consumer-driven TME backdrop, how should the C-suite plan their business growth and IT investments while also keeping pace with rapidly developing technology advances and retaining their top talent?

A sensible first step is for business leaders to closely reexamine their capital allocation strategy to fund their IT investments and long-term growth plans. For many, that will mean taking a close look at reallocation of existing allocations instead of external sources of capital.

This may require company leaders to reorganize or shift IT resources and identify new capabilities that are needed to run IT as a more accountable profit-and-loss business that supports top-line revenue targets in new and better ways. IT must have its house in order to free up innovation dollars to support marketing and other business units taking advantage of technology advances to reduce customer churn and improve customer experiences. Following are three avenues to discover internal funding sources that can unlock real IT, marketing and business transformation and results.

Run IT as an accountable P&L business

While this idea is not new, not enough executives and managers are ensuring that IT is a well-oiled department that is more aligned with the business and, in fact, is run like an actual business itself. Simultaneously, IT leaders should be held accountable for reaching sales goals, making marketing efforts more productive, reducing customer churn, obtaining new customers, better overseeing project governance, and other critical business and financial objectives.

Consider outcomes-based outsourcing to increase efficiency

Many IT leaders feel confident they understand outcomes-based outsourcing and how to best apply it to increase operating efficiency but more often than not they’d like to acknowledge they really don’t. Progressive outcomes-based sourcing contracts are difficult to negotiate, but when done effectively and with both parties winning in mind, they can be extremely impactful. On the flip side, when executed poorly, outsourcing can slam the brakes on your organization even with outside help. Doing outcomes-based outsourcing well frees up high-value talent to take on bigger, more meaningful projects and locks-in your outsource provider to your joint success – a powerful combination – accelerating the business forward.

Adopt insights-as-a-service to rocket past competitors

Big data and the Internet of Things appear in news headlines on a regular basis but have yet to realize anywhere near their full potential because of the perceived complexity, the large amounts of data that aren’t well understood or actionable, hefty time requirements, required new skill sets and more. The application of advanced analytics, AI and machine learning to large data sets, internal and external, is where the muscle brands are ahead. Accelerating the application of these capabilities to drive customer experience and individualized marketing is a key challenge. Building these capabilities at an accelerated rate that resembles more of a sprint than a marathon through insights-as-a-service models allows companies to buy insights by the drink, quickly and funded through discrete micro-business cases.

Any of these three tools by themselves can open up internal funding sources, and used together they are a powerful combination. They can better unite IT, marketing and business leaders throughout your organization while enabling more nimbleness and the ability to respond in real time when it matters most – but only if company leaders abandon their seats in the grandstands and instead get behind the wheel and stomp on the accelerator.