can make or break your career
February 15, 1999
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Who should be your "best friend" if you want to succeed
as a marketing executive? Should it be your advertising agency
account representative? Those 30-second spots can make or break
your brand. And commercial shoots in Hollywood can be a lot of
be your financial analyst from the accounting department? Counting
the beans can keep you one step ahead of management and give you
the numbers you need for compelling presentations in the boardroom.
As a packaged
goods marketer, my best friend was a market research analyst who
could bring me unique, independent insights about my customers
and the competition.
interactive marketers dream late at night about their venture
capitalist being their best friend, but wiser heads know that
venture capitalists don't have any friends.
If you want
to succeed in marketing today, your best friend and closest ally
should be the information technology executive or the chief information
What a difference
20 years can make. When I broke in as a brand manager, the "CIO"
term hadn't been coined. In those days, nobody in marketing spoke
with anyone from IT at the annual Christmas party or summer picnic,
except by accident. You just wondered why it was so hard to get
your sales reports customized and why they never came out on time.
Now your teammate
in the IT group can make or break your career. And, in some cases,
the CIO could even become your boss.
examples include Jim Barksdale, former CIO of Federal Express,
who had moved to senior management from a technology background.
He left FedEx to be president and COO at McCaw Cellular Communications,
then became CEO of Netscape Communications. Or there's Pete Solvik,
CIO of CISCO Systems, and perhaps the leading business-to-business
practitioner of interactive marketing. Solvik supervises CISCO's
entire Internet business.
But, you say,
"Those guys are in technology-intensive businesses. The CIO
doesn't matter in my business."
Not so. Look
at the Walgreen Co. in Deerfield, Ill., and Harley-Davidson, Inc.
in Milwaukee, leading marketers in their categories that have
both scored breakthroughs in interactive marketing. Both have
influential CIOs. And neither organization would be as well known
on the e-commerce circuit as Amazon.com, Ebay or etoys.
is a $15.3 billion retail drug-store chain operating more than
2,500 stores in 35 states. The company estimates another 500 locations
will open before the end of 2000, and that it will have 6,000
stores by the end of the next decade.
Walgreen's achieved a 14.5% growth in revenues combined with a
17.2% growth in net income. How is it achieving top-line growth
and bottom-line profitability? In part, through smart telephone-based
"Prefills Service" enables customers to refill prescriptions
automatically. The pharmacy even calls you when your prescription's
about to run out. Or, you can call and refill the prescription
using a touch-tone phone. You can also refill on-line, if you
like. The system dramatically reduces the customer's waiting time,
and it improves pharmacist productivity in the store as well.
to Walgreen's CIO, David Bernauer, "We have 120,000 prescriptions
per day entered on the touch-tone telephone system. We also have
about 500 prescriptions refilled each day over the Internet. The
phone is really a lot faster for our customers."
customer wants simplicity and control," says Bernauer, whose
resume reads like a corporate Renaissance man (see the interview
on the next page). The marketers and technologists at Walgreen's
are working shoulder-to-shoulder in a team-oriented environment
to deliver on that customer requirement.
aren't the only ones to recognize the value of Bernauer's work.
Walgreen's just promoted him to president and chief operating
A visit to
the Harley-Davidson Web site is a Zen-like experience. Some of
the best "brochure-ware" on the Web can be found there
(www.harley-davidson.com). The company's 95th anniversary site
was a Web blockbuster, but that's not why they're break-through
interactive marketers, although a hint can be found on their Web
If you browse
the home page, you won't be able to buy anything on-line, but
you'll have lots of opportunities to connect with its network
of 1,200 dealers.
and the information technology executives at Harley-Davidson know
the company has two critical customers, the Harley-Davidson dealer
and the Harley rider, including more than 300,000 loyal members
of the Harley Owners Group or HOG.
technologist David Storm turned this potential channel conflict
into a strategic opportunity. His team uses the consumer Web site
purely as an informational tool for end-customers. Meanwhile,
Storm created a set of proprietary interactive tools to share
information with his other customer-the Harley-Davidson dealer
He says, "We
have a dealer management system that we offer our dealers. We
can poll the system to find out what's selling at retail. It has
information about what inventory is moving. It has information
about how our dealers are running their service departments. We
can tap into data from most of our dealers to get closer to our
marketing tools helped the company increase revenues by 15.1%
last year while growing profits 4.9% over the year before. Maybe
that's why Storm is vice president of planning and information
does Storm have for marketers and technologists at other companies?
"I'd coach both groups to educate each other on what is possible
and what is doable. You have to get a real support mentality in
information services. And you may have to add some people who
understand the potential of information technology in marketing."
marketing executive is one who "takes a long-term view,"
not one who "focuses solely on the quarterly results."
to upwardly mobile CIOs like Bernauer and Storm, you start to
understand why today's smart marketers want to spend time in friendly
conversation with these executives. These technologists are doing
lots more than delivering the sales reports. They're helping create
tomorrow's sales and profits.
that the marketing department's mission?
is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago.
He can be reached at email@example.com.