A new trend in progressive enterprise organizations is the rise of the CIO. No, not the Chief Information Officer, but the Chief Innovation Officer, charged with ensuring that idea-driven companies produce both customer-facing products and services as well as internal efficiency. For a brand’s marketing team, this means a new opportunity to incorporate the latest technologies and digital strategies into the marketing and communications programs that can take that organization to the next level.

The modern business environment is being propelled by startups, alongside small and mid-sized businesses who have the capacity to stay nimble and pivot amidst constant change. Large organizations on the other hand function more like monolithic battleships, that struggle to change direction as the seas of global markets shift. By failing to adapt away from business-as-usual, these companies will fail to execute enterprise-wide digital transformations when their markets, offerings, and landscapes shift. To keep up with the competitive digital marketing marketplace, that approach needs to move towards a culture of innovation.

Challenges CIOs Face

Even companies progressive enough to hire a Chief Innovative Officer experience difficulty incorporating the innovations they are brought aboard to spur. One of these challenges is that many organizations are worn out from optimistic promises of “digital transformation.” Upon entering their new roles, CIOs have found challenges receiving budget sponsorship from CEOs and advisory boards who do not want to undergo long holds in productivity for a comprehensive IT overhaul when rapid-fire business disruption is the norm.

What CIOs and organizations alike must realize is that change will come, but it will not happen overnight. These transformations will occur at a slower, more iterative pace, with the CIO being the champion advocate for how these transformations will lead to results.

For marketers, that means a strategy that begins to scope out results on a 12- to 24-month innovation cycles instead of the 5- to 7-year epic journeys digital transformations of the past. This may not be as fast as organizations desire (since most of us are used to two-day shipping and instant gratification shopping for new purchases), however taking a long view on steering the ship in the right direction can help organizations and their CIOs realize success in moving massive organizations toward higher-level goals.

Rethinking ROI

CIOs often have large ambitions for massive transformations – and rightly so. As always, these dreams must be balanced with a slice of reality in knowing that all organizational results are measured on how they affect the bottom line. However, rethinking Return on Investment will help stagnant organizations regain their positions on the cutting edge. One way of doing this is to measure business transformation and ranking digital technologies by their larger benefit to the organization, or a “Return on Innovation.” This measure-heavy approach will place additional emphasis on digital KPIs, thereby restoring value in smaller, periodic results over time.

This agile approach is proliferating through business environments, as companies begin to realize well-founded success is built on the sum of quality parts. For example, if you were to build a boat, you wouldn’t push to make all of the different parts of the boat at the same time. You would build it piece by piece, making sure each was quality to ensure that the boat was fortified enough to stay afloat for a long time. CIOs must take this iterative approach if they want to build real change in large organizations.

Sailing Into the Future
The new breed of CIO will ultimately help steer these massive ships toward a prosperous future, by breaking them free of the grooves they have dug themselves into. Organizations are often rooted in outdated methodologies which prevent acceleration toward organizational goals, and it is the responsibility of this new Chief Innovation Officer role to turn the ship in the right direction. Marketing professionals can help push organizations into helping steer the ship towards where they need to be in the market – with the most innovative approaches that are supported across the C-suite.

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