How The CMO Can Use Crowdsourcing To Lead Digital Innovation

March 23, 2016 Clinton Bonner

by @ClintonBon


We have likely all read the varied Gartner and Forrester reports and blogs citing that the seismic shift in enterprise budgeting has delivered both the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and the CDO (Chief Digital Officer) newly found prowess through substantially larger budgets, often at the expense of the CIO and IT in general. Yet, even with increased budget, many CMOs and CDOs still lack the power to fully execute on their digital vision; not because they lack vision, but rather because they lack the technical capability or access to technological skill-sets they need in order to create, test, and rapidly bring to market the types of neo-user interfaces that will drive top-line growth for their enterprise.

Many CMOs and CDOs are facing this issue and bridging this technical design and talent gap can seem impossible. It's not, but you must first let go of the notion that the talent you need to succeed must be on your team, or part of some agency you pay an hourly wage to. Remember, this is the era of access. Between Netflix, Uber, Airbnb and all the others participating in the sharing economy, it is evident that access trumps ownership. To put it simply; you don't need to own the DVD stack to watch every episode of 'Breaking Bad', you just need to access Netflix. When it comes to the design and developer talent you may lack, think about crowdsourcing in the same way you now think about watching that next on-demand episode. 

Using Crowdsourcing to Fully Execute The Digital Vision

Understanding that the above, let’s focus on what can now be achieved through alternative delivery and innovation management methods powered by crowdsourcing. What can be achieved is dependent on two bridges being erected, communicated “on”, and supported.

Bridge #1 – Bringing Your IT Leaders to Your Vision for Crowdsourcing

Envision a conversation where in which you lay out in detail to your IT team how you plan on using crowdsourcing to speed up delivery of digital assets. What will IT truly care about and likely ask about?

  • How can a ‘crowd’ successfully build assets on our technology stack?
  • What are the risks to IP, security, and governance?
  • How can environments be shared or created so the outputs delivered are truly enterprise quality and easy to integrate?
  • What kind of quality assurances does crowdsourcing bring or leave desired?

Your ability to communicate that through crowdsourcing you will be able to create innovative assets built to their exacting standards will go a long way. Stop politicking for influence and favor, and instead show IT that you understand and validate their legitimate concerns by inviting them in to be a partner with you on this journey to transform your enterprise.

Bridge #2 – Bringing Crowdsourcing to Your Business Units to Amplify Your Digital Vision

Imagine being able to answer and deliver on your business units most pressing questions and desires.

  • How can we go faster? The landscape moves so quickly, we need to be digitally nimble.
  • Can we access A-Team type design and tech talent all the time?
  • How can we change how we approach innovation and how we try new solutions?
  • What are you doing to help me accelerate my career? I want to emerge as a strategic leader who creates value.

Delivering and ramping up an internal team on a crowdsourcing platform can liberate their creativity, amplify their domain, and help your teams produce innovative assets like never before. They will gain a sense of self-determination and rapidly understand they now have a place to create new solutions in a low-risk environment where experimentation is encouraged and innate to the innovative process.

Truly Owning Digital Innovation

Whether you are CMO, CDO or positioning yourself to earn one of those key roles, it’s imperative you understand that being an “ideas” person will not cut it. Both roles now have extraordinary amounts of budget and with budget come scrutiny to deliver. Considering the very real technological & talent hurdles you will face to create digital solutions that actually matter, we encourage you to look more closely at crowdsourcing. Fundamentally, it allows you to create a digital vision for your enterprise, and then execute on that vision without the need for you yourself to become a technological guru.

When you deliver for your business units, satisfy your IT team’s legitimate governance concerns, and move the top-line needle for your CFO through innovative assets, then you will truly own digital innovation for your enterprise.

Good luck on your journey.

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