>IT Communications, A Must Have

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Being in a technical field like IT, we often see disconnects between the “techies” and the business people—almost like they are speaking foreign languages at each other. The result is that the techies don’t really understand the business requirements and the business people don’t understand the technical solutions. It’s sort of comical to watch, if not for being so sad in terms of the huge number of failed IT projects that result.

One thing we’ve realized is that we need to be able to communicate and communicate well between the business and IT or else we are not going to be very effective at IT service provision and enabling the business to perform at its best.

One solution has been to have IT staff whose job it is to translate between the business and IT units—these people are in roles at times called “business liaisons” or IT-business relationship managers. It is helpful to assign these liaisons to each business unit and give them authority and accountability for managing and nurturing a healthy relationship and unambiguous communication between business units and IT providers. The liaisons “own the customer” and ensure that requirements are captured correctly and understood by IT, that the proposed IT solutions are clearly explained to the business, and that the customer is satisfied with the systems and services they are receiving.

A second solution is hire IT communications specialists who more broadly “market” and communicate IT plans, policies, processes, goals, objectives, initiatives, milestones, and performance. I have found these professionals to be indispensable to “getting the message out there” and enhancing awareness and understanding for IT in the organization. Of course, IT leaders play a critical role in developing and honing the actual message, and in delivering ongoing two-way communications throughout the organization. In essence, they are the ambassadors and communicators par excellence inside and outside the organization with all IT stakeholders.

In short, IT needs to communicate early and often and communicate, communicate, communicate.

ComputerWorld, August 31-September 7, 2009 has a wonderful article affirming the criticality of IT communications in an article entitled: “Marketing IT: An Inside Job” by Mary Brandel.

As Brandel states: “It’s not about hype. It’s about conveying IT’s value.” I would add that it’s not only about conveying IT’s value, but also about creating IT value, by improving the two-way communication between the business and IT and thereby generating more effective solutions.

The article provides a number of useful suggestions for marketing and communicating IT that I’ve adapted, such as customer satisfaction surveys; IT annual reports that communicates accomplishments, alignment to strategic plan, “resources saved, awards won, and conferences at which staff members have spoken;” e-Brochures with “video coverage explaining goals,” services, policies, and plans; and Twitter alerts on service outages.

The key though which Bandel points out is that IT leaders need to “embed a 24/7 marketing mindset throughout the [IT] organization.” While business liaisons and IT communications specialists are focused on and specialize in this, it is still imperative for everyone in the IT organization to understand and be able to market and communicate IT services and processes to customers. All IT personnel are representatives to the business and should present and represent that customer service is our #1 goal.

From my perspective, this means transitioning our IT organizations to be wholly user-centric. This means a clear and ever present awareness that the business is IT’s raison d’être.

>How to Strengthen the Office of the CIO – Part II

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Punlished at Government Technology

[Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a series that explores the CIO Support Services Framework in government.]

In Part 1 of The CIO Support Services Framework, I presented the six major components needed to support the public CIO in managing IT strategically and proactively. In this article, I will explain what IT best practices framework inform these six components and propose a structure for implementing it.

The six CIO Support Services Framework (CSSF) functions are distinct areas that require subject-matter expertise and need to be managed based on the various IT best practice frameworks. While I am not endorsing any particular best practice government or industry framework, below is a sampling according to CSSF functional area:

Enterprise Architecture (EA) — Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA), Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF), and The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF).

Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) — Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-130–“Management of Federal Information Resources” and the Control Objectives for Information and related Technologies (COBIT) by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI).

Project Management Office (PMO) — the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) by the Project Management Institute is the de facto standard project management best practices from initiation through project closeout.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) — the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) by the United Kingdom’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and International Standards Organization (ISO) 20000–“IT Service Management.” While both are very much operational frameworks, they can also be used to guide service and support at a strategic level in the OCIO.

IT Security (ITS) — the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), various Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), and International Organization for Standardization ISO/IEC 17799 — Information Technology Code of Practice for Information Security Management.

Business Performance Measurement (BPM) — the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) by Kaplan and Norton from Harvard Business School — examines financial, customer, internal business process, and learning and growth measures for the organization.

Although each of the six main functional areas and their supporting best practice frameworks are unique, they can and will overlap, and it is imperative that the OCIO develop a simple and streamlined process for managing these, so that IT and business personnel are not confused or burdened by redundant or circuitous IT processes that hinder, rather than spur innovation and agility. For example, while EA planning guides CPIC IT investment decisions, those decisions inform the next round of EA planning — it is inherently cyclical. Nevertheless, we must ensure that the overall process flow between all six areas is as clear and simple as possible.

I like to use the example of a Monopoly game board as an analogy for how IT processes should ideally progress from “Go” all the way through — logically, and more or less sequentially — without project mishap, ending up on the OMB Watch List for risky IT projects, the equivalent of landing in Monopoly “jail.”

The CSSF provides the functional resources to fully support the OCIO and provide the capability to move from simply fighting day-to-day operational problems to strategically managing IT service provision, improving performance and increasing program and project success, through:

Planning (EA)

Investing (CPIC)

Executing (PMO)

Servicing (CRM)

Securing (ITS)

Measuring (BPM)

Each of these OCIO component functions is helpful in managing IT by providing the CIO the capability to better plan, invest, execute, service, secure and measure — but these are not stand-alone functions — they are all necessary and complementary.

An organization can have the best EA plan, but without the structured investment processes of CPIC, the plan will not drive, guide, influence and shape IT investment decision-making. In fact, I would propose that CPIC is an enforcement mechanism for carrying out the EA plan.

Similarly the organization can have a wonderful CPIC process for making IT investment decisions, but without a PMO to develop and enforce sound PM policies and practices, IT projects will continue to fail miserably. With an effective PMO, we will have more successful project execution, but without CRM to manage customer requirements and service and support issues, we run a very high risk of rolling out IT capabilities that the customer neither wants nor is happy with. Further, CRM will increase customer satisfaction, but without ITS, CIOs will not ensure the security of the information and systems that the users are depending on.

Finally, with ITS, CIOs will provide users for information security, but without BPM, will miss the opportunity to perform structured performance measurement and management, so that the CIO has visibility to how IT is performing in all areas and on an ongoing basis and can take timely corrective action as needed.

Most organizations either don’t do any of these CSSF functions well or they don’t do them all. The six components need to be executed together — the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Further, I would propose that the six CSSF functions be implemented under the auspices of the CTO of the organization in order to centralize and holistically manage the functions in support of the CIO.

The result is that the CIO is better supported, without being overwhelmed, and the CTO has a clear mandate for strategically implementing the CIO’s vision for the organization.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges to implementing the CSSF is finding and allocating the needed funding to support these OCIO functions. IT operations tend to be underfunded already and stuck in the perpetual firefighting mode. Executives often fearf siphoning the needed money or people away from the short-term firefight to work on long-term strategy and implementation. This is a serious mistake!

Firefighting is a losing battle if you attack only the symptoms, but never address the cause or core strategic issues. Moreover, in the fast-paced technology environment of the 21st century, no IT leader can afford to be looking backward — managing legacy systems that do not leverage modern technologies, techniques and methodologies for information sharing, collaboration and business intelligence.

If you are spending close to 100 percent on IT operations today, is it really unreasonable to allocate 3 to 5 percent of this to strategy, planning and control? Of course, this needs to adjust when IT budgets get extremely large or small and as the complexity of the organization shifts.

As the prior chief enterprise architect of the U.S. Coast Guard and of the United States Secret Service, I have always been a deep proponent of EA and CPIC to drive better IT investment decision-making. However, now as the chief technology officer (CTO) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, I more fully understand how the CSSF functions and interplay are needed for the CIO to perform effectively.

Clearly EA and CPIC are not enough to adequately support the CIO’s needs, and thus, they need to be extended with PMO, CRM, ITS and BPM. Moreover, these areas function best that function together for the reasons I mentioned prior — it’s a clear domino effect, where astute planning, sound governance, skilled project management practices, competent customer service, solid IT security and meaningful performance measurement are all necessary for the CIO to manage IT more strategically and effectively.??This is why I firmly believe that the CIO Support Services Framework is how we are going to have to manage IT to achieve genuine success for the CIO in the 21st century and beyond.

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Andy Blumenthal is chief technology officer at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A regular speaker and published author, Blumenthal blogs at User-Centric Enterprise Architecture and The Total CIO. These are his personal views and do not represent those of his agency.

>How to Strengthen the Office of the CIO – Part I

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Published at Government Technology

[Note: This is a two-part article on strengthening the office of the CIO to improve IT operations. Part 1 examines the six components of a CIO Support Services Framework. Part 2 will explore best practices and implementation.]

Information technology is plagued with what federal CIO Vivek Kundra recently called “magnificent failures.” A recent research survey by theStandish Group identified that more than 80 percent of IT projects were either failing or significantly at risk. Another article described the CIO’s role as a nearly impossible job, trying to manage day-to-day firefighting with limited to no ability to get control and manage strategically.

We are investing massive sums of money, time and effort, only to disappoint customers, miss the mark on requirements and fail to deliver on time, within budget and to specifications.

The CIO Support Services Framework (CSSF) is an approach for changing the dynamic of failed IT projects and putting the CIO and other IT leadership back in the driver’s seat, by ensuring that the structural components for success are identified, elevated and resourced appropriately.

The focus of this article is to identify, describe and link the core elements that make up and support an Office of the CIO for the purpose of demonstrating how that will lead to improved IT operations. When the CIO is properly supported, program and project management can be executed with strategic intent and alignment.

It is not my aim to discuss the pros and cons of the many solid approaches to IT project and program management today, such as the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA), Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 20000. I will say that while each is comprehensive in its own right, they are skewed by a particular emphasis on a particular function. For instance, FEA looks at architecture planning, ITIL on service support and delivery, PMBOK on project management and so on. What the CIO needs for ultimate success is a way to incorporate elements of all of these perspectives into a bigger picture.

 

Image copyright by Andy Blumenthal

So what is the CSSF? It is an IT framework aimed at standing up and strengthening an office of the CIO so that it can lead strategically and drive improved IT operations. The idea is that just as business drives (or ought to drive) technology within the greater organization, so too within the function of IT, the CIO and his or her strategy must drive technology operations rather than just fighting fires.

In the typical IT organization, CIOs are expected to be both strategist and problem-solver, with little supporting strategic infrastructure to guide, influence, shape and drive their key decisions about IT operations. All too often, problems crop up and even the most skilled and well intentioned CIOs are left to make decisions based on gut, intuition, politics and subjective management whim.

Even if the CIO has an IT governance board to shoulder some of this responsibility, together they are still like blind people grasping in the dark for answers. This framework corrects the structural defects in today’s IT organization that cause this situation to occur.

The CSSF has six major components:

1. Enterprise Architecture (EA) — for strategic, tactical, and operational planning in the organization. EA includes all perspectives of the organization’s architecture including: performance, business, information (data and geospatial), services or systems), technology, security, and human capital (this last one is currently missing from the Federal Enterprise Architecture).

In EA planning, we develop the current architecture–where we are today in terms of business and technology resources, the target–where we want to be in the future through business process improvement and technology enablement, and the transition plan–how do we get from where we are today to where we want to be in the future.

More mature EA’s provide business, data, and systems models, and identify gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities in the business and IT and recommend business process improvement, reengineering, and new technologies to improve organizational performance.

2. Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) or IT governance — manages the IT investment decision processes of selecting, controlling, and evaluating new or major changes to the IT portfolio ( i.e. to put those plans to work and make them pay-off). CPIC can ensure that IT investments maximize return on investment, minimize or mitigate risk and provide for strategic alignment to the business.

CPIC also helps make IT investments technically compliant by ensuring that desirable IT behaviors are followed, such as information sharing and quality, interoperability, component reuse, standardization, simplification, cost-efficiency, and of course security.

3. Project Management Office (PMO) — oversees the effective execution on the IT projects. These projects derive from the EA technical roadmap and transition strategy and from IT investment decisions coming out of the governance board(s) in CPIC. Project management is how we manage all facets of a project to include scope, schedule, cost, quality, project resources, integration, communications, and more, from the initiation of a project through its closeout. Project managers typically develop the work breakdown structures, project schedules, and monitor and manage progress to these.

4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or IT service management — for managing service and support to our customer with “one call does it all”. As opposed to customer management within IT operations which is focused on helpdesk, availability, break-fix, and support issues, CRM in support of the CIO is focused on serving as IT liaisons to the business responsible for overall customer satisfaction, generating and managing customer requirements, supporting business case development, and handling internal business complaints, issues, and coordinating problem resolution with IT operations.

5. IT Security (ITS) — how we conduct IT security policy and planning. This function encompasses how we plan, assess, and enforce IT security, and not the actual implementation of IT Security, which is an operational IT function. This functional area includes preparing certifications and accreditations, risk assessments, security plans, vulnerability testing, security awareness training, and security policies. IT security ensures the confidentiality, availability, integrity, and privacy of the organizations information.

6. Business Performance Management (BPM) — how we measure and drive performance, so we know whether we are hitting the EA target or not. BPM involves identifying performance measures, capturing, analyzing and reporting on metrics, and providing the CIO with IT executive dashboard views to inform which programs and projects that are on track, challenged and in jeopardy of failure.

Typically BPM provides for a drill-down capability, so high-level “red-yellow-green” program/project indicators and milestones can be decomposed into lower levels of detail for trends, analysis and making course corrections. BPM should provide a feedback mechanism for how the IT function is performing and drive continuous process and performance improvement in the CIO organization.

Together these six areas make up a holistic and synergistic set of support functions constitute a fully capable Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) in the center.

In creating a strong OCIO, the CIO Support Services Framework wisely separates the policy, planning and oversight functions from the IT operations. This is beneficial in two main ways: First, this enables the CIO to strategically and proactively direct IT operations, rather than being in perpetual firefighting and reactive mode. Second, the separation of duties — strategy from operations — creates a healthier organizational dynamic and interplay in IT, where the fox is not left guarding the chicken coop.

Part 2 of this article will explore IT best practice frameworks and implementation of the CIO Support Services Framework.

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Andy Blumenthal is chief technology officer at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A regular speaker and published author, Blumenthal blogs at User-Centric Enterprise Architecture and The Total CIO. These are his personal views and do not represent those of his agency.

>CIO Support Services Framework

>The CIO Support Service Framework (CSSF) has 5 major components:

  1. Enterprise Architecture–for strategic, tactical, and operational planning
  2. Capital Planning & Investment Control (or IT governance)–for managing the IT investment decision process (i.e. “putting those plans to work”)
  3. Project Management (or a project management office)–to effectively execute on the programs and projects in the transition strategy
  4. Customer Relationship Management (or IT service management)–for managing service and support to our customer (i.e. with a single–belly button; one call does it all)
  5. Business Performance Management–how we measure & drive performance (like with an IT executive dashboard–so we know whether we are hitting the target or not!)

Together these five areas make up a holistic and synergistic set of CIO support functions.

So that we move the mindset of the CIO from fighting day to day operational problems to instead strategically managing IT service provision through:

  • Planning
  • Investing
  • Executing
  • Servicing
  • Measuring

This is how we are going to achieve genuine success for the CIO in the 21st century and beyond.

>Bridging the Business and IT Divide

>Leadership is all about people. In the simplest terms, you can’t be a leader without followers. And to inspire and motivate people to follow, you need a clear vision and the ability to articulate it. Moreover, leaders need to be professionally and technically competent; they need to understand their industry and the competitive environment, and be able to effectively engage decision makers, subject matter experts, and employees across the enterprise and stakeholders outside of it.

For a CIO, leadership can be even more challenging because of the balance needed between the business and technical aspects of job and the need to communicate to those two communities in their respective languages and to be able to translate between them. Often, sitting in meetings I see the best intentioned IT folks often talking techie “right past” their business counterparts and the business folks discussing mission to IT people who may never have been outside the confines of the IT environment.

As the CIO, it’s key to bridge the divide and help the business and IT communities in the organization work together and learn to speak and understand each other. Only this way, can the IT folks understand the business requirements and the business folks understand the technical solutions being proposed.

To accomplish this, the CIO should have the business and IT people work together in integrated project teams (IPT’s), tiger teams, task forces, and so on to accomplish IT projects, rather than the business just being consulted at the beginning of the project on the requirements, and handed a “this is what we thought you wanted” deliverable at the end.

Further, the CIO should appoint business liaisons or customer relationship managers to routinely work with the business, understand their needs and work to address them—until completion and satisfaction. The business liaisons need to “own the customer” and should not just be a pass-through to the help desk with no follow up, closure, or performance measurement

Where appropriate, I think it is even a good idea to collocate the business and IT people together, rather than in their separate fiefdoms and functional silos to so they really become a cohesive team—sharing business and IT knowledge and working together to implement an IT enabled business.

Of course, the CIO should encourage training, field trips, work details, and other cross-pollinating initiatives.

Finally, a robust enterprise architecture and IT governance helps to effectively bring the business and IT people together to jointly build the plan and make the decisions, so that it is not one side or the other working in a vacuum or imposing little understood requirements or solutions on the other.

In the book, The New CIO Leader by Boardbent and Kitzis, one of the basic premises is that “every CIO will follow one of two paths:” as follows:

–either they will be a “chief technology mechanic,” narrowly focused on IT to the exclusion of the business.

– or they will be a “new CIO leader,” where “IT is at the heart of every significant business process and is crucial to innovation and enterprise success.”

To be the new CIO leader, and truly integrate IT into the very fabric of the mission, you need to “weave business and IT strategy together” and also integrate the business and IT people to work effectively together.

Of course, this starts with building a high-performing IT organization, but must also involve regularly reaching out to the business at every opportunity and including them as full partners in build effective and efficient enterprise architecture planning, IT governance, and full systems life cycle execution.

In my opinion, the new CIO leader, does not think just IT, but lives and breathes the business and does everything in their power to bring the two not just in alignment, but in true partnership.

How important is this?

As Broadbent and Kitzis state: “If you don’t think like a constantly ‘re-new-ing’ CIO, you may be on our way to becoming an ex-CIO.

>6 CIO Tools for Managing IT Risk

>“The consequences of not managing risk have hit Americans square in the jaw.”– Government Executive magazine, March 2009

Too often CIOs see themselves very literally as managing IT. What they need to do is manage risk along with all of the other key leadership issues such as innovation, information-sharing, collaboration, and so on.

Context

The IT environment today is part of a larger social, political, and economic context that is more fraught with risk than ever. The mortgage meltdown, the financial crisis, job losses, volatility in commodity prices (e.g. oil), and so much more—it seems like it will never end. I would add that recently we had birds collide with an airline in NY, satellites that collided in space, and submarines that collided from France and the U.K. Oh, let’s not forget Russia’s invasion of Georgia and the terrorist attacks in India in November that killed at least 173 and wounded 308 and the Asian Tsunami in 2004 that killed over 225,000 people from 11 countries.

This is scary beyond belief!

Is G-d punishing us, teaching us, ignoring us?

Expectations

Whatever is going on, people are crying out for help–they are praying, and they are also turning to their government for “recovery” (as in the Recovery Act), “bailout” (as in taxpayer bailout), “relief” (as in the Troubled Asset Relief Program). The CIO is operating in an environment in which risk management is increasingly something that the average citizen expects from their leaders (and IT is not immune):

–“Citizens are increasingly calling on government to prevent bad things from happening and to ride in to help when they do.” (Donald Kettl).

–“American want life to be less risky…[and so] without realizing it, federal officials are risk managers at their core.”

–“The public, not only demands that the government manage the consequences of risk, but that it deals with problems before they turn into catastrophes. Merely reacting to risk is eroding the people’s trust in government.”

Challenges

While risk management is clearly a critical need, it is also more difficult than ever, for the following reasons:

–Pace and impact—“the problem now is the rapid pace of the challenges—that whatever it is that happens punishes and punishes instantly.”

–Scope—“’we obviously don’t want to get to a state where the government is running everything.’ But with no clear definition of the limit, the number of public risks the government should manage appears endless.”

In my opinion, cost is a huge factor as well. Just the financial crisis so far has cost us trillions of dollars and added to our debt probably for generations to come, and at a time when we are already on the brink with unfunded social security and Medicare liabilities for the baby boomers that are quickly nearing retirement and is feared will overwhelm the system. How much more financial burden can the system take before there are dire consequences?

Framework

There are no easy answers to these trying times or to how we manage the incredible risk that we seem to face virtually every day. However, there are three common approaches to risk management set forth by Moss:

–Reduce it (or eliminate it, if possible)

–Spread it

–Shift it

We often reduce risk, by having a backup plan (such as in IT having backup and recovery), and we mitigate risk by spreading or shifting it (such as through insurance policies or government social programs, and so forth).

6 Tools for CIOs

These lessons in risk management are critical to professionals in information technology, a field that is always in rapid transition with changing products, skill sets, and practices and where the scope of IT impacts almost everything we do (from online finance, health IT, e-commerce, robotics, and more). And where the price of keeping up with Jones in technology is does not come cheap to any organization these days.

In IT, where more than half of projects are over budget or behind schedule and many end up cancelled all together, we need to manage project risk. Here is a suggested toolkit for CIOs to do so:

–First, we need an architecture plan to ensure that we are aligning to business requirements and complying with technical requirements. This helps reduce the risk that we are doing IT the “wrong” way.

–Second we need to have sound IT governance to manage the selection of our investments, the control of cost, schedule, and performance, and the evaluation for lessons for the future. This helps reduce and spread the risk that we are doing the “wrong” IT investments.

–Third, we need solid project management to guide projects from initiation through close out in a defined, repeatable, and measureable way. This helps reduce the risk that we doing projects the “wrong” way.

–Fourth, we need robust IT security that protects our data from manipulation, interception, interjection, or other malice. This helps reduce and spread the risk of our IT working “wrong”.

–Fifth, we need adept customer relationship management so that we are fully engaged with our customers in building solutions that meet their needs and solves their business problems. This helps spread and shift the risk that we are managing our IT customers the “wrong” way.

–And sixth, and not least, we need to focus on our human capital to ensure they have the leadership, motivation, tools, and training to perform at their peak. This helps reduce and spread the risk of human error.

Together, these six CIO tools are the keys to the kingdom when it comes to managing IT risk and we can never take risk management for granted.

>Integrated Marketing Communications and Enterprise Architecture

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There is a better way to showing customer love than inundating them with marketing and communications that are not coordinated, not focused, redundant, inconsistent, and not cost-effective.

This is the case of many organizations that have multiple, decentralized, lines of business (LOB) that have their own revenue and profitability targets. Typically LOBs, branches, and call centers solicit customers and their business independently, with distinct marketing campaigns, promotional offers, and customer surveys.

What’s the way to improve our customer interactions?

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” (American Marketing Association)

In DM Review, May 2008, Lisa Loftis provides us a vision of IMC utopia, where customer contact are coordinated, targeted, is helpful to the customer, and profitable to the firm:

“Imagine being able to coordinate and prioritize your entire program of promotions and communications across all customer touchpoints. You could eliminate conflicting offers across channels. You could stop inundating you bet customers with multiple marketing campaigns, You could deliver a seamless dialog with customers where every interaction is relevant to the customer, delivered at exactly the right time and satisfies a significant customer needs. In this universe, the very act of communicating with your customer fosters a positive experience, facilitates trust and expands the relationship.”

Why is IMC important?

“Timely, relevant communications go a long way toward increasing satisfaction, and there is no question that satisfied customers add to the bottom line.”

How is IMC related to User-centric Enterprise Architecture?

User-centric EA relies on IMC to make the architecture end-users experience more satisfying and beneficial to them and thus more valuable to the organization’s decision making. As opposed to traditional EA that often is user/customer blind and develops esoteric and convoluted “artifacts”, User-centric EA seeks to provide end-users with IMC-style information products based on relevant information that is easy to understand and readily available.

What are the enterprise technical solutions that need to be architected in order to build the overall organizational IMC capability?

  1. Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) systems—utilizing CRM system to manage customer contacts. This includes an organization “building a database about its customers that described relationships in sufficient detail so that management, salespeople, people providing service, and perhaps the customer directly could access information, match customer needs with product plans and offerings, remind customers of service requirements, know what other products a customer had purchased, and so forth.” (www.techtarget.com)
  2. Business Intelligence capabilities—“understanding customer behavior and preference through sophisticated predictive analytics, wading through myriad potential contacts to determine the highest-priority opportunities and tuning your data warehouse to work in conjunction with specific contact optimization applications.” (DM Review)
  3. Organizational Culture—adopting a customer contact optimization strategy in an organization that is decentralized is a tough sell.

In the end, developing true IMC capabilities involves moving the organization towards a more centralized model of asset management. That does not mean losing your agility and nimbleness in the marketplace in terms of strategy and decision making, but rather using your consolidated organizational assets (such as data warehouses and business intelligence, CRM systems, and the breadth of depth of your product offerings) to your advantage. You want a unified brand and voice when talking with the customer.