Marketers, Here are the Keys to Your IT Department – Good Luck

January 25th, 2012

Clinton Bonner is an Open Innovation author/blogger, futurist and Marketing Manager at TopCoder – a global Open Innovation platform and community.

Look no further than a very recent post by the purveyor of Convince and Convert and you’ll notice something remarkable. As Jay lays out 4 Nearly Guaranteed 2012 Social Media Predictions, what do you notice? Have a quick look at his 4 predictions:

  1. Multi-Media Soars – Jay is speaking about video and photo apps that enhance social media, draw more users off of the likes of Facebook and into new channels driven by mobile app technologies.
  2. Reading Tea Leaves – Jay is speaking about the emergence of Big Data. Social is fantastic at collecting the data, but to date, many, with the exception of IBM and Google, do not understand how to begin to leverage this data. I would personally add to Jay’s list and confidently state that 2012 is the year “Big Data” starts to make sense as consumerization ensues.
  3. The Year of Mobile – Seriously – self explanatory and nice nod to the emerging NFC (Near Field Communication) chips headed to a mobile phone near you – NFC as a platform will be tremendous.
  4. Staffing and Resources – Having the right talent on the business side of the equation to drive all of these initiatives.

OK, so the pop quiz becomes: What trend do you see in Jay’s predictions? Assuming the Jeopardy theme song just ended in your head as well, let’s see your answer.

Why Marketers are Now Technology Geeks?

If that was your answer, you are correct. There is a sincere convergence happening between the creative genius that stems from top marketing departments and the technology expertise needed to bring these things to market, where they actually create value for the business. It’s important to recognize how we got to this point.

15 – 20 years ago: IT (and the IT side of the business) ruled the enterprise. Websites needed constructing and the only people equipped with the skills to bring it live were of course in IT. Conversely at this time, marketing is “stuck” in the final days of traditional advertising print-radio-tv era and valuation for all that spend is fuzzy at best.

10 years ago: Blogging becomes much more popular and powerful and the consumerization of IT begins. IT departments worry not, blogging won’t really have that much of an impact! Marketers begin to see potential beyond the traditional web.

5 years ago – Present day: The consumerization of IT is rampant fueled by the mobile smart-phone and the app culture that is born on top of this new platform. “Suddenly”, (quotations because of course the very most things are neither sudden nor surprises) there is a remarkable power shift inside the enterprise. IT who was king only a decade previous is now the one struggling to define their value add. Security and “keeping things running” doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Today, value is driven in scores by those on the business side, much of that value stemming from marketers (encompassing those in social media) who are envisioning new user experiences and finding ways to bring the idea to market in the form of applications and creative digital assets.

This comical comment below comes from a very recent article on Wired.com entitled: 2012 Will be the Year of Apocalyptic Reckoning for CIOs. The comment sums up the sentiment many have with regards to their IT department.

Congrats, You are the Driver… Now What?

As value shifted inside the enterprise, so has the power to drive technology decisions. As 2012 gets nicely underway, marketers find themselves empowered and wanting to prove that they indeed deserve this new found responsibility and can routinely deliver value back to the enterprise with it.

No Man is an Island – Technology is hyper-fragmented. Look no further than the current state of mobile/tablet devices and the various operating systems they must run upon. The emerging web 3.0 – and I mean literally emerging as we speak – will make today’s fragmentation look minuscule. Those who can truly drive enormous value for their companies will learn that they are no longer “First Seat Clarinet” and instead they are the composer of an entire symphony of value creation. What does this mean?

Composers of grand value will seek out and find new ways to get an enormous amount of innovative work accomplished. One such vessel is clearly Open Innovation and specific Crowdsourcing platforms. They enable people with vision and ideas to bring them to life without having to know or own in-house, the specific talent needed to develop the particular technological want. The 21st century employee – the successful ones that emerge as force-multipliers and create a tremendous amount of value for their organization – will understand how to wield knowledge platforms in order to produce extreme value outcomes.

Marketers are in the pole position. You have budget, you have big ideas and now – thanks to mature global innovation & productivity platforms – you do not need to “own” the talent to bring the idea to market. But you do need to understand your new role as a technology driver for your organization.

You are no longer just in marketing. You are a technologist, you are a social enterprise creator, you are a consumer co-creation strategist, you are a User Interface architect, you are empowered to drive value for your company through non-traditional means, technologies and innovation platforms. You do not need to know how to expertly play every single instrument. But you better be certain you are prepared to conduct. Going forward, this will separate the good from the exceptional.

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