Is Eduardo Conrado a harbinger of things to come?
He's Motorola's senior VP-marketing and IT, a role he was appointed to in January after serving as chief marketing officer. In his current job, both marketing and all of its traditional responsibilities -- product marketing, brand, website, internal and external communications, and more -- fall under his purview. But so does the IT department and the chief information officer.
Think of it as marketing-IT, or "MIT", as a former Motorola board member suggested after meeting with Mr. Conrado earlier this year. Mr. Conrado, who is speaking in New York on May 20 at Advertising Age and B-to-B's Marketing+Tech: The Rise of CMO-CIO Alignment, sat down to answer a few questions about why his role has evolved the way it has and what it means for marketing and technology. Here is that interview, lightly edited.
Ad Age: What drove the decision to place both technology and marketing together underneath a marketer?
Mr. Conrado: If you think about the CIO role, a third of the CIOs report into the executive team, so the CEO. I report to the CEO. But that means two-thirds report someplace else. Our view is that the reporting structure will determine the focus IT will have for the company. So a traditional area where IT reports is the CFO. And if that happens, focus is often on cost containment, both on optimizing the cost for the company using IT and optimizing the IT infrastructure and team. Another area [IT often reports to] is operations. And if it's there the main focus is around back office, so factories, distribution centers, supply chain, etc.
Our view is that more and more technology is a business enabler. We're a tech company so technology is our business but more importantly the business is technology. … And as more companies are centered on the customer, then IT should also be supercharging the customer engagements of the company. If that's the case and if IT is going to report into an area, it'll report into sales or marketing as those are the two areas that are customer facing. Marketing is one area that's very comfortable with technology. Marketing teams have been working in digital fields for the last decade, overseeing websites, content management, social platforms, databases, the collaboration tools we use internally, and we're familiar with analytics. The CMO has been knee deep in technology strategy. … It's a natural fit.
Ad Age: What other parts of the company does IT impact under you?
Mr. Conrado: IT also drives culture within the company. Part of it has to do with collaboration. Our internal tools that we call systems of collaboration drive everything from traditional tools such as email to, increasingly, social platforms used as collaboration tools that are tied into employee profiles. And as companies increasingly have a disparate workforce, how do you find experts and do knowledge sharing? There's a lot of inherent knowledge sitting within systems, how do we bubble that up to better use it. Today I just came from our downtown facility and a meeting that was myself and the IT VP and head of HR for company. We spent three hours talking about systems of collaboration and what those look like over next two years -- how do we cross borders, bridge internal and external people. It's about the culture of the company and the systems that enable that.
Ad Age: Motorola has been ahead of the curve on creating a department of so-called marketing technologists. How do you define a marketing technologist at Motorola? What is the role?
Mr. Conrado: Three years ago, we had the traditional digital team within marketing and there was a separate team in IT that supported us. Over the last couple years, that team started working closer and closer -- we'd do joint planning between marketing, IT and sales. Even before I took this role, the CIO and I talked and said you know the team would perform much better if instead of having two parallel organizations that collaborate we had a single organization that oversees digital platforms and strategies for the company. So we combined digital marketing with the IT team that was helping implement the tools. More and more they're service-as-software tools, so they look at the strategy, how we engage with customers, how we define the process. … Half the group is marketers with an affinity to technology, the other half have affinity for marketing and sales processes.