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Putting Social Business at the Intersection of IT and Marketing

October 30, 2012 No Comments

Featured article by Jim Freeze, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Aspect

Increasingly, IT decisions are being made across the entire enterprise, incorporating other functions, especially marketing, in the decision-making process. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2017 the average IT budget of a CMO will be larger than that of the CIO. From enterprise collaboration and customer contact tools to data storage and analytics, IT decisions are not just in the interest of the CIO anymore.

So without creating tension, how do you satisfy both the CMO’s desire to implement technology to effectively reach customers and a CIO’s need to streamline all technology decisions? Ensuring decisions are made with the entire enterprise in mind is the first step.

Where Social Business Fits In

Take the concept of social business, for instance. It is a common misconception that a business is “social” when it undertakes social media outreach for marketing or customer service. However, weaving social behaviors into every part of a company’s operations both internally and externally is really what defines social business. It is characterized by an open, highly communicative corporate culture that extends to the customer. As more and more organizations latch onto the social trend, they must realize that this involves marketing, IT and the entire enterprise.

When building a social business, the CMO and CIO must work together closely to ensure the right technologies are implemented to enable enterprise-wide collaboration for the benefit of the organization and of the customer. But what does this mean for each function?

For a CIO looking to ensure IT decisions benefit the entire company –

Recent research from points to the fact that CIOs, in many cases, are the last of the C-suite to embrace social business when actually, they should be among the first. This trepidation stems from concerns about security, policies, data, platforms and so on, which are always at the forefront of a CIO’s mind. But, embracing social business is about taking a step back from the CIO norm to ask “What am I trying to accomplish with my company’s social strategy?” This shift in thinking allows CIOs to ensure they articulate their role in building a social business and that the security, policies, platforms, etc ladder back up to an overall social strategy that maximizes business benefits.

Enterprise-wide socialization and collaboration provide seamless and consistent access to all of an organization’s expertise, no matter the department or geographic locale, ultimately breaking down the siloes of the enterprise. Internally, the facilitation of collaboration and integration of systems allows for improved knowledge transfer throughout the organization and improved efficiency in allocation of resources. Unified communications (UC) becomes a central pillar of this because of its ability to remove internal barriers and silos within the enterprise.

For a CMO wanting technology that drives customer engagement –

As customer interactions become more complex, the need to engage with experts across the broader enterprise to resolve a problem or provide timely service is increasing. Being able to access knowledge and resources across the organization in real time translate to better customer experiences. Collaboration provides the customer with faster question/issue resolution which means organizations can more easily attract and retain customers. Technologies that allow organizations to identify an expert, assess their availability and quickly engage them in a dialogue, dramatically improve business efficiency, collaboration and the customer experience. Interaction management solutions that seamlessly integrate the enterprise with workforce optimization efforts can make this happen.

As organizations increasingly embrace the adoption of social attitudes within the enterprise, many believe they walk a fine line in deciding where the business decisions around adopting social lie. But, it’s easy to see that the concept of social business can have benefits for more than just one function and applying a collaborative approach to creating, use using and maintaining the infrastructure for a social business can alleviate tensions between marketing and IT.

Social business strategy, and most business strategies for that matter, must be addressed through integrated technology systems and involvements of all business units – they are no longer just the responsibility of one department. And ensuring the right technologies are implemented to meet the needs of the strategy does not lay solely with the CIO and IT department. An enterprise-wide approach ensures that both the internal and consumer facing benefits are realized and the strategy has a significant impact on both operations and the bottom line.

Jim Freeze
Jim Freeze brings more than two decades of marketing leadership experience, focused in the technology sector, to his position as senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Aspect. Jim plays a crucial role in executing on Aspect’s corporate vision and strategy with oversight for the company’s messaging platform and brand elevation, as well as the development and delivery of product and solution marketing strategies.

Prior to joining Aspect Jim served as CMO and vice president of corporate development for Crossbeam Systems, where he expanded market share with successful go-to-market planning and selling strategies, revitalized demand generation processes and improved media awareness for the company. Before Crossbeam, Jim was the senior vice president of marketing and alliances at BelAir Networks after serving as chief marketing officer at 3Com and Centra software. Earlier in his career Jim held senior-level marketing and sales positions at other leading technology companies, worked as senior telecom analyst at Forrester Research and was a practicing attorney.

Jim completed both undergraduate and graduate studies at The Ohio State University and earned his juris doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Capital University Law School.

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