What does a day in the life of a CIO look like? For FranklinCovey CIO Carol Fineagan, digital transformation, customer experience, technology, and talent would likely be the topics du jour.
Fineagan says her company is focused on customer ease of use, something that can’t be achieved without the right technology in place. In this exclusive interview with CMO.com, she explains her stance on marketing technology as the next enterprise tech infrastructure, how to pick the right vendor, and the role a CIO should play when it comes to choosing and implementing martech.
CMO.com: What is the CIO’s role in your company’s digital transformation?
Fineagan: FranklinCovey has developed a digital strategy over the years, enabling the company to become more digitally facing. Part of this process has included identifying the people here who are the knowledge experts to form a committee of collaborative, thought leaders in the company.
This committee includes all the executives who bring business knowledge, product knowledge, marketing knowledge, and sales knowledge together. As the CIO, I represent the delivery and technical knowledge, and I advise on how to put forth all of the great ideas, products, and solutions we offer out into the marketplace in a new and different venue.
CMO.com: How do you think about customer experience?
Fineagan: At FranklinCovey, we are very focused on our customers’ ease of use and helping them to accomplish whatever the job to be done is for which they are hiring us−their job to be done. Our customers want to have access to our world-renowned content any time, any place, on any device−in their workplace, their home, or while traveling. The customer experience we’re delivering is to be able to be in front of our customers at their convenience and on their schedule–on-demand. And the Adobe Experience Cloud products have allowed us to do this very well.
CMO.com: What is your opinion on the emergence of cloud-based marketing technology as the new enterprise tech infrastructure?
Fineagan: IT is really about solving business problems and customer problems. With cloud-based marketing technology, we’re no longer having to focus so much of our time and energy on the rudimentary technology platform. The products are now allowing us to leverage our internal knowledge. We can focus on delivering business solutions versus delivering platform solutions. IT is now at the forefront and part of many significant strategic and planning conversations at the executive and financial level.
Also, our customers are utilizing the cloud, as well. So you can no longer say to a customer, “You have to meet these platform standards to engage with our product.” Now all the platforms work together. There’s a lot of synergy, and we're all playing on the same playing field now. The differentiator is in our company expertise and how we deliver that expertise, the products on which we choose to deliver it, versus a server or a storage device. All of those things are now commodities. The real expertise is in the software and applications here, how to deliver products, and how to get that knowledge out the door.
CMO.com: There’s a lot of talk about CIOs having to work more closely with their marketing counterparts. What does that look like inside of your company?
Fineagan: I would say there is a huge exchange in dialogue between the technology team and the marketing team because marketing is not product-independent of IT. Everything that is delivered in our company, whether it’s marketing or sales or training, is delivered digitally. So we work very closely together. We have to be in harmony because the technology is in front of our customers and we’re using technology to analyze how they’re leveraging our products and solutions. My team and I don’t expect marketing teams to become experts in the technology, just as they don’t expect us to become experts in marketing. We meet in the middle and we’re able to leverage each other’s expertise to deliver a richer solution to our customer base.
CMO.com: How involved are you in choosing marketing technology for your business?
Fineagan: We’re involved from the time they decide they need a new solution. We sit down and work with them on the various business and technology requirements for each product. IT is also very engaged in interviewing the vendor and demoing, selecting, implementing, and then testing the product. The full rollout is a collaborative effort between marketing and IT.
IT and marketing have to be in lockstep to have a solution that’s going to implement smoothly and actually deliver results. Marketing and IT also measure the results together, as there are not IT measurements and marketing measurements. Rather, it’s a solution measurement in the value proposition that is being offered to the marketing team and to our customers.
CMO.com: What factors should marketing technology buyers consider? What questions should they be asking vendors?
Fineagan: Well, certainly the ability to work well with and plug into legacy systems. Just because you’re going out and looking for a new solution doesn't necessarily mean you’re going to be replacing everything in your environment. First, you look for a solution that’s going to leverage the knowledge that exists throughout your company. If you have legacy databases or you have legacy sales systems or delivery systems, you have to have your environment work in harmony.
We look for systems, first and foremost, that have many APIs. They easily integrate with other systems, and that was a primary consideration for us with Adobe. There are so many integration points that Adobe has built with other systems in the marketplace, which is huge. You don’t need to abandon everything you own to move forward.
The other thing we look for is customer support. In addition to the actual sale, how is the vendor helping you implement the technology for success to meet business goals? How are they maintaining the business partner relationship beyond the transaction? And I don’t mean simply call center interaction, but keeping in touch with you as a customer, so that as they move forward on the vendor side, you are also moving forward with them. It needs to be a long-term, continuing relationship, and that’s how you get your return on investment for purchasing the product. If you buy a product that is only good for two or three years and then you have to replace it again, you’re losing all of that investment in knowledge, training, and implementation. So we look for long-term business relationships with our vendors.
CMO.com: Some IT departments are hiring marketing technology specialists. Is this happening at FranklinCovey? Or is there a team within IT that specializes in marketing technology?
Fineagan: Our marketing team has hired people with technology expertise, so that we don’t have to act as interpreters of IT to marketing. They have technology awareness and savvy. We have business analysts and specialists on our team who are assigned to work with marketing, and they have a deep understanding of the marketing strategy and goals.
Our vice president of marketing and global director of digital are also technology experts. They have many years of experience in technology. And other business units are also hiring experts with technology experience. And that’s what we’re seeing–a blending of those skills and a recognition of the importance of having our technology team knowing more about marketing and our marketing team knowing more about technology. The way to bridge the gap is to hire people with both skillsets.