WHO SHOULD CALL THE SHOTS ONLINE? BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY LEADERS

By | February 9, 2016

The Internet Strategy Forum collaborated with SIM, the Society for Information Management. to jointly host this very insightful and provocative panel discussion. Over 70 industry professionals attended the event and we had very frank and open conversations; conversations that most of us wouldn’t (but should) have within our own companies.

With the rise of the internet and e-business, all firms, regardless of their primary products or services, are now in the high-technology game to some degree. CTOs and CIOs may view this shift as playing to IT’s historical competencies, but others in the organization don’t always share that opinion. In many companies, there’s tension with business leaders, particularly Product Management and Marketing executives, over process, structure, speed, and priorities with regard to on-line activities. Some view IT as a bureaucratic impediment to be worked around in order to travel at “web speed,” while some IT leaders feel that their business counterparts’ apparent lack of discipline and technology savvy ends up resulting in costly strategic mistakes.

This lively panel discussion explored the point of view of both sides and offered potential solutions with regard to:

  • Requirements and the Front End of Product Development: Are traditional development methodologies sufficiently flexible to meet time-to-market requirements? The business pushes for more informal methods, while IT often demands structure. Is there a point of compromise?
  • Embracing New Digital Platforms: Online videos, user generated content, widgets, content aggregation, search and the list of hot digital platforms goes on and on. With customers expecting more and nimble competitors opening up shop everyday, do business and technology leaders share a common understanding of the business opportunities and its impact on technology infrastructure ?
  • Partnership versus Build versus Buy: This is where product selection meets business development. In addition to the historical build-or-buy decision, companies can partner with third-parties to develop products or provide web functions, resulting in revenue sharing or licensing deals. Who seeks out potential partners and structures the relationships?
  • Managing Innovation: Marketing’s traditional role is to scan the horizon for trends, understand customers’ needs, stay abreast of competitors, and serve as the conduit for future product ideas. But on the Internet, many of the most innovative start-ups have had strong technology pedigrees. IT is filled with professionals who live and breathe technology — what role can or should they play in defining product strategy and innovation?

Moderator: Lee Huang

Panelists:

  • Sandeep Varma, VP Marketing, Barnes&Noble.com
  • Dan Leeds, VP Product Development, TheLadders.com
  • Tom Smith, Director of Technology, Hearst Digital Media
  • Miles Kafka, Technology Director, Avenue A | Razorfish

Hosts: Joe Galarneau and Lee Huang

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