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Building analytics alliances in the corporate C-suite

Paul Newman Archive

No matter how visionary and skilled a chief information officer might be, it's impossible for any CIO - or even collectively, a whole IT office - to tackle matters of data quality alone. Bringing analytics to the forefront, especially in a complex field like retail, where companies have a great deal of consumer data at their fingertips, can be logistically tricky.

It's important that IT reach out to other departments within a company, connecting with other people who can help make data a fundamental part of the business process. In particular, it can be beneficial for CIOs to collaborate with chief marketing officers, as marketing leaders tend to have a complete grasp of a company's objectives with data mining and analysis.

How can such an alliance happen, though? It isn't easy. TechTarget recently speculated about a couple strategies that can work.

Changing the framework
Sometimes, it's necessary for CIOs and CMOs to work together to achieve their goals. They may even need to adjust the very framework of the way they do business. Greg Pfluger, vice president of information systems at American Family Insurance, explained as such to TechTarget.

"There's a tendency to either have the marketing department build something themselves or to have an external provider do it, and then it goes through a cycle where it reaches some kind of road block and they need to bring it into IT," said Pfluger. "That's the methodology we need to change so that marketing includes us at the beginning and we can provide better IT service."

Companies have a lot of different things to look after when managing internal data - there are the matters of security, vendor management and availability management, to name three. Corporate alliances smooth out this process.

Working together for change
Eventually, marketing and IT need to change the infrastructure so that they're aligned more closely. Jonathan Martin, senior vice president of corporate marketing at EMC Corp., suggested that this may even take the form of a new department - he calls it "marketing technology."

"[The team] has a particular focus on IT," Martin said. "It stays close to the [venture capital] community, understands where they're investing and the types of technology they're investing in, but it's also able to understand what we're trying to do in marketing."

Realigning a company's departmental structure sounds like quite the hassle, but it can be beneficial in the long run. It helps both teams to achieve more.