A CIO can help the corporation to increase revenue

by Marco Tapia

in management-it-consulting,

October 22, 2009

In the past, IT was a significant expense and seen as a necessary evil. Later, it became “an enabler,” helping organisations make processes more efficient and in many cases, increase productivity by removing costly labour from the process. However, IT is no longer just an enabler. IT is now an intrinsic part of the business and able to help to increase the top line (revenue).

Previously most CIOs used to report to the CFO who is normally committed to reduce cost and all of his/her focus is around that (CFOs are renowned for cutting or containing cost). This could be very appropriate when the economy is in recession and cost cutting is needed.

Progressive CIOs are those who help the organisation to make money i.e. to generate revenue. These kinds of CIOs are appropriate when the economy is steaming along and growing. The same CIO can play both roles, just need to be mentally attuned to the changes in mindset and leadership required to play both roles and any role in between.

This article is about detailing some ideas and concepts to help you to generate revenue. This is definitely a subject of great interest to any CEO, Marketing and Sales Directors.

Ideas to cut cost are not discussed here; they are easy to generate and just need mental toughness to implement. However, to generate revenue and to be seating at the right hand side of the CEO, you need creativity, innovation, and knowledge of Marketing, Sales, business (yours) and Business Development.

So here are some methodologies and ideas that can help:

1. Learn about Marketing

Why it is done, the four Ps, SWOT analysis, promotional techniques, how to assess its success, understand the personalities and interests of Marketing people, what drives them, how they think and what they do. Also understand the partners they use, marketing agencies, promotional agencies, IT providers (that you probably didn’t even know as they usually hide from you).

To achieve this, you as the CIO need to immerse yourself with the Marketing team and also study marketing independently. Because each organisation is different, I can’t suggest starting from the top or from the bottom of the marketing organisation. Start from where you think is appropriate for your organisation; but start.

2. Go out with BDMs.

You need to visit customers with the Business Developers or Sales people. You need to attend meetings when proposals are requested, discussed, negotiated and closed. By understanding this process, the pressure that BDMs are under and how they achieve results (or fail) you will appreciate much more the dollar given to you to spend in IT.

3. Know your customer

Try to be part of focus groups, usually organised by Account Managers, Business Developers or Marketeers, leading towards getting customers opinions about your products or services.

4. Use Analytics

Enable and review Google Analytics (or a similar tool) on your web site. Understand what your customers look for, what parts of your site they visit, what keywords they use. You can also enable and manage Google AdWords to achieve similar results.

After understanding how your company generates the current revenue, consider how you could help to generate more… they will love you.

Some ideas you may want to consider and develop further are:

  1. Provide Google Analytics summary reports to Management (not to indicate what type of browser your customers use – but to indicate what sections they visited, why and how)
  2. Develop tools that customers or prospects can interact with to understand your product or service and to configure the solution they need
  3. Design and propose quotation tools so your customers can obtain quotes online.
  4. Design and propose tools to analyse the Return on Investment by using your products or services.
  5. Design and propose online tools that can help to book your services, schedule repairs or warranty work.
  6. Understand the debtor’s collection process and create solutions that could help to monitor and collect money due earlier.
  7. Integrate some of your online solutions to Google Maps.
  8. Proposal management system – Business Developers spend huge amount of time doing proposals – if you could help it will help them to increase revenue.
  9. Price Management tool – how does your company manage prices and how you could help your BDMs to calculate the correct price for a service or product.
  10. In general, after you understand what is important to BDM, Account Managers, Sales, Marketing you will be able to:
    • Develop solutions for them.
    • Fine tune the infrastructure for them (email, intranets, collaboration tools, mobile solutions, mobile technologies, mobile support, sales support priority) and especial connectivity for sales VIP.
    • Fine tune the IT organisation to support the top line players i.e. priority support for BDMs, VIP attention and support service i.e. if after reading this article you still give the same support priority for the same problem raised by an accounting clerk versus a BDM, you are lost!
    • Fine tune the IT culture to support and develop ideas and innovation for the top line players
    • Learn about your company P&L and understand what and who contributes to the top section of it.

Whatever and whoever does not contribute to the top line, outsource on a long term basis.

Whatever projects are identified to help the top line, outsource as project to be done ASAP i.e. short go to market

5. Who to employ in your IT organisation

Vendor/contract managers (to manage day to day operations – performed by outsourcers), Innovators, Business Analysts i.e. people that can help you to expand on your ideas and strategy to support the top line and increase your company revenue.

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