By the time you realize you have a serious IT culture problem, the situation will be hard to fix. Consider these signs your culture is starting to crack – and how to respond.
Shared accountability can erase the CIO-CMO divide
As an IT leader, do you share the same business objectives with your marketing teams? It’s easy to see how there can be a divide. IT’s primary mission is often to drive efficiencies, reduce costs, and increase business productivity. Marketing is often focused on increasing top line revenue and growth. But, more and more, the goals of the CIO and CMO are merging. Today, companies are demanding that we reduce the cost of acquisition while maximizing revenue opportunities. It’s akin to having your cake and eating it too. Marketing organizations need nimble channels, that enable data-driven experimentation, maximize revenue opportunities, and lower the overall cost of acquisition.
How have we enabled this at Vanguard?
A great example of how our IT and marketing groups partnered together is Vanguard’s recent public site redesign (our primary prospect channel). Prior to this initiative, due to the infrequent release schedule of our retail web site, our marketing team needed to plan web campaigns six to nine months in advance, making it challenging to keep the site relevant and fresh. Then, if a campaign didn’t do well, the team would have to wait several months before they were able to make changes. Problematic, to say the least.
A few years ago, we kicked off an initiative to completely re-architect the site. The new, modular design supports a much quicker development cycle, and the team is now operating in a continuous delivery mode. By employing a robust automated test suite, they have the ability to deploy to production on-demand, enabling rapid turnaround and experimentation at a much lower cost.
Today, our IT organization values agility and time-to-market. In fact, we track mean time-to-market for features on our IT scorecard, which measures our progress in a number of different areas. We also deliver most projects using an agile methodology so we can quickly respond to changing priorities.
CMO-CIO collaboration is only the beginning
Our relationship with marketing goes beyond a singular CIO-CMO dynamic. We tend to have different digital strategies in each of our businesses because they operate in vastly different markets. For example, our mobile strategy for Vanguard’s U.S. Retail Investor Group provides our individual investor clients with robust analytics capabilities on their portfolios using native mobile apps. On the other side of the spectrum, our young, growing international businesses focus on building scale and reach across the globe as quickly as possible at the lowest cost – which lends itself to a mobile-first approach to the web.
While having different digital strategies could lead to a more siloed approach, for Vanguard the benefit is we can tailor the IT solutions to meet each distinct set of needs. This, in turn, leads to closer collaboration between our various marketing and IT leads. To avoid becoming too siloed, we have many cross-functional forums within IT to discuss architecture and development needs. We also have an Enterprise Shared Services group that is responsible for bringing in common tools — for example, a next generation content management system — that could be used throughout the enterprise.
Staying social – in every sense of the word
Social media is an important component of our marketing strategy, and we’ve been a social media leader from the beginning. We currently have more than 860,000 followers on Google+, and Vanguard’s profile has been viewed nearly 3.8 million times in the two years since its launch. We have more than 170,000 followers on our Retail Twitter account, with more than 12,800 tweets since our feed launched in 2009. We also have more than 148,000 fans of our Facebook page. Our social media channels are a critical platform to educate and communicate with our shareholders, and our IT Innovation & Research team supports these efforts. The team helps answer questions such as: Which new platforms should we take advantage of? What can we learn from techniques like social listening? Should we support social media as a logon? This is one way we can help our business stay ahead of the game in an ever-evolving landscape.
John T. Marcante is Vanguard’s chief information officer and managing director of Vanguard’s Information Technology Division. Vanguard is the world’s largest mutual fund company with more than $2.6 trillion in global assets under management. Marcante oversees all aspects of Vanguard’s worldwide technology agenda to serve clients and manage investments. Mr. Marcante, with more than 26 years of experience in the business and technology fields, joined Vanguard in 1993. After serving in a number of leadership roles throughout the company, he returned to the IT division in 2012 and was named Vanguard’s chief information officer and managing director. Marcante holds a Bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University and an M.B.A. from Saint Joseph's University.