When we think of Coca-Cola, we think of two things: delicious beverages and revenue generation. The current success of Coca-Cola is in large part due to the commitment of the company’s vice president and CIO, Ed Steinike. In his interview article with Steinike (available in full with free registration at McKinsey Quarterly.com), Robert Levin asks about the role of IT in the life and practices of a CIO. Levin begins by asking how IT and the role of CIO is changing at Coca-Cola:
IT and marketing are very close partners at Coca-Cola today—more so, I think, than at most other companies—and that’s the way it should be. Coke is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on digital marketing, and that number will, no doubt, continue to rise. Almost all of that spending is IT-related. This development calls for a broader CIO role. It’s not enough to be an operational back-office CIO running the systems. It’s also not enough to be a process CIO reinventing the supply chain and transforming support functions. Important as those two roles are, they need to be complemented by what I call the revenue-generator CIO or business-level CIO.
Steinike goes on to champion the importance of digital business. Hosting customer sites as soon as the trend became apparent, Steinike notes, made it easier to adapt to what the customer wanted in a product and in an experience. He also recognizes the importance in hiring the right IT people. This does not necessarily mean hiring only seasoned professionals. Hiring entry level workers for things such as application-development and software as a service can be a wise move for an organization.
To further develop your IT department while cultivating direct customer relationships, Steinike again mentions the importance of digital technology. Making interactive apps available on various mobile devices provides additional opportunity for the customer to connect with the company. The happier the customer is with a product overall, the more they are willing to purchase it. Learning from the lessons of Steinike and Coca-Cola will lead to sweet success for you and your organization.