Digital Analytics - CIO Approval
When it comes to successful digital analytics programs, from the research that I’ve conducted and the clients I work with, it’s clear that senior level sponsorship is talked about as the single most important contributor. Over the years, I've seen that we need to go a bit deeper than the general concept of senior sponsorship to understand how and if this is really the case.

Much of this gets to a “people” issue and how digital analytics is caught up in a broader discussion about the digital channel. In the case of digital analytics, it’s likely the CIO has more to do with successful digital analytics then the CMO, even though it is the CMO who often sponsors the digital channel and digital analytics initiatives.

CIO - Gatekeeper or Advisor

Why? Because the CIO controls the technology that digital analytics requires. I recently spoke with two organizations -- one in which the CIO is not on board with digital and one in which the CIO is supportive of the digital channel.

In Organization A, where the CIO is not on board, his team acts as a gatekeeper and “decider.” His team will not allow the online marketing department’s digital agency to have access to the organization's Google Analytics profile, citing “security” risks. The IT department will provide reports to the agency but not allow the agency to do the segmentation, filtering and custom reporting that it needs to provide recommendations that guide the marketing department’s online strategy. The marketing director can escalate to his manager, but doesn’t want to have to “play” this card unless he’s sure that the IT department’s claim of security risk is completely erroneous. This situation has been going on for seven to eight years.

In Organization B, where the CIO is on board, his team acts as an advisor and consultant. His team discusses the online marketing department's requirements for technology and access. They collaboratively review options. If they are concerned with security risks, they work with marketing to figure out the best way to balance real issues with business priorities. The CIO and CMO have together fostered this environment. This relationship has existed for about 10 years.

It surprises me that 20 years into the digital age, I still see more organizations following scenario A than scenario B. This is not industry specific either. It’s present in .com, .org and .gov.

Trust & Understanding Form the Foundation

How does Organization B come to be? I've seen a few characteristics that contribute to healthier environments.

The first characteristic is Trust. How did this come about?

In organization B, all of the groups understand and respect what each other does and what their mission is in contributing to the success of the company. It’s a team effort. Marketing understands that IT’s role is to be concerned with technology system purchasing, performance security and IT risk management. IT understands that the business departments are tasked with creating products, programs and services that drive revenue.

Organization B has a digital leadership council that has representation from marketing, sales, product development and IT. Organization A does not have such governance.

Organization B has regular meetings and working sessions between IT and marketing, sales to determine how to implement digital leadership council strategy. Organization A does not have such meetings and working sessions.

Organization B’s Director of eBusiness tells me, ““Trust plays a huge factor in why there is cooperation between Marketing and IT. IT plays the role of advisor, not gatekeeper.”

The second characteristic is Understanding.

The CIO and CMO in Organization B are in agreement that IT technology is a critical component in supporting online business.

The CIO and CMO in Organization B are in agreement that analytics is the linchpin that connects the two sides of the business. Analytics makes the business accountable for its marketing, sales and product development efforts. Digital channel analytics provide CFO/CIO with clear view into ROI based on technology investments and digital channel spend.

In another organization, the culture of analytics to measure the business is so strong it is mandated by the digital governance council to be baked into all projects. This helps marketing determine its effectiveness and IT understand more clearly where technology investments are supported by business cases. In my opinion, this is where the concept of a data-driven business really gets put into practice.

My May and June articles discussed the building of an analytics dream team and analytics roadmap. These initiatives start with senior level leadership and sponsorship. Trust and understanding are key intangibles that make these initiatives successful. Governance is important to be sure, but if there isn’t a baseline spirit of real cooperation and agreement within the C-suite, it’s a challenge to have change occur down the line.

If you’re currently in an Organization A situation, how might you seek to build the Trust and Understanding? I’m finding that analytics can provide accountability for all concerned. I see organizations where there has been a less than great relationship between IT and Marketing undertake pilot analytics projects that will prove ROI on initiatives and help build the business case for further analytics investment. 

Like working sessions and meetings, these demonstrations are good trust builders and conversation starters. It’s a bootstrapping approach that can lead to a stronger future digital program -- one that is driven by data.

Title image amadorgs (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more of Phil's analytics insights see Digital Analytics Roadmap to Excellence