Hop in the time machine and travel back 20 years to the period leading up to the Dot-com boom. As we moved towards the late 90’s, opportunities for innovation and reinvention on the web seemed limitless. The business world was suddenly and drastically altered by changes in the technological landscape. Innovation was king as skepticism gave way to excitement – nobody wanted to be left behind in the frenzy of new businesses popping up. Of course, business fundamentals eventually reasserted themselves, and the bubble burst in the first years of the new millennium, leaving thousands of businesses scratching their heads as to what had just happened.
Fast forward a decade, and technology has taken another several leaps forward. Innovation is alive, but despite the possibilities for forward thinking in a more interconnected world, industry is currently focused on the business of marketing. Thanks to the advent of the social web, businesses are now more mindful of the importance of understanding how to sell over what to sell, a concept plucked straight from the birth of modern advertising in the middle part of the 20th century.
Today, marketing departments are larger than IT, and they are growing at a faster rate. Marketing budgets are growing so fast, that by 2017, the average CMO is expected to spend more on IT than the same organizations’ CIO. Tech-centric initiatives like digital advertising, social media campaigns, and mobile marketing budgets are skyrocketing. Marketing departments are even taking over the responsibilities of choosing and managing technology providers and understanding customer intelligence and analytics. So, are IT departments doomed to fade away completely as their role is diminished further and further?
In reality, the changes in practice have been the result of a shift in perception about the functions of CIOs and IT departments. Most organizations presently view IT as a means to increase productivity and efficiency, rather than through the traditional lens as a source of innovation and new business directives. Today, innovation’s place is in the drivers’ seat of newly amplified marketing efforts. It is a powerful way to deal with an increasingly crowded and noisy marketplace. The enlarged budgets and widened responsibilities of marketing departments include room for innovators.
As a result of this paradigm shift, the world of IT is on a path to be split into two distinct groups, the conventional infrastructure providers and the new innovation partners. In an abruptly changing environment, CIOs must answer the call to push business forward through the mechanics of innovative marketing, or simply be left behind.