How to assess your tech needs according to Intel Services

In this guest blog Joel Reid, new business sales leader at Intel Services, explains what brands and retailers need to know when specifying technology in an ever evolving world.

Weighing up the options: how brands can assess their technology needs

By Joel Reid

“In the latest Gartner CMO Spend Survey Report 2015, customer experience is predicted to be the top technology investment for the year ahead among the biggest hitting companies. 

According to research by Martec, a third of CIOs at the UK’s top 150 retailers say that other departments, such as ecommerce and marketing, invest in technology outside of the IT department’s control, in a bid to keep pace with digitally-savvy shoppers.  As marketing has become more digital and data-led, the focus on customer engagement has blurred the organisational lines between the CIO and CMO.

Increasingly technology-driven consumer behaviour is creating new demands on CMOs to connect with its customers in every channel.  In turn, these demands have seen CMO buying power burgeon in the last few years, with Forbes suggesting this could be as high as controlling 40% of IT spend.

But, while ecommerce and marketing managers have that all important touch point with the consumer, if the decision making on IT spend becomes siloed, brands and retailers run the risk of losing the business value and efficiencies associated with integrated solutions.  It could also lead to overlapping Software as a Service (SaaS) bought in by different departments or used by affiliates, which otherwise could have been consolidated to create cost savings.

This is placing greater pressure than ever on CIOs to regain and retain control of enterprise technology, at the same time as adding value to other departments that the business demands.  Their challenge is to connect their information and intelligence in order to create a tighter and more profitable engagement.

To create the seamlessly integrated customer journey that today’s ‘always on’ omnichannel shopper necessitates, retailers should adopt a similarly joined up approach; effectively managing and unifying their activities in all channels.  This can be both directly and through a network of partners, affiliates, agencies, developers and media. 

CIOs will need to align all these functions under a holistic strategy, identifying where solutions can most influence customer engagement, whilst delivering against business objectives.  This will build trust amongst the marketing department that IT can deliver value.  And, in turn, make CMOs less likely to bypass IT when outsourcing to vendors, a decision which, if made in isolation, may be made in haste or without the architectural insight CIOs can provide.  This means IT architecture needs to be multifunctional, with the flexibility to be implemented by multiple users, as well as being able to respond quickly to changes in customer behaviours and demands.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are one example of technology that can help CIOs achieve this level of integration, acting as the bond between disparate applications and devices, and enabling all the players to meet rapidly changing consumer preferences.

By working together CMOs and CIOs can harness the right technologies and solutions to generate greater benefits for long term business gains.”