It all used to be so easy. B2B tech vendor wanted to sell services or kit and so targeted the CIO and/or IT manager. It was that cut and dried - it was tech, so the person in charge of tech had the tech budget. Simples.
But then, the enterprise world became so reliant on digital that various department heads also had their own budget lines, and the CIO would simply be an approver or internal influencer. For instance, the CMO is predicted to be spending more on technology than the CIO this year. Suddenly, B2B PR became trickier - who are we targeting, why and how?
But now it seems all my pleading for bringing back the good ol' days has worked (Absolute 70s and 80s on the office radio was a good start*). CIOs are starting to take back control of tech. Not because the old mentality of tech procurement being solely tech folks' domain is coming back, but because the role of the CIO is changing.
CIOs (and all those under the same banner but with different job titles) have been leading the hugely wide-ranging "digital transformation" and "business transformation" charges for some years now, delivering proven and valuable results for every employee, partner and customer in the process.
And they have been learning along the way. They have grown in their roles beyond manning the dingy server rooms to now be almost encroaching on the COO in their concern and influence over daily operations and processes. They have seen off the shortlived assault from the CDO by proving that tech representation at C-level is more than adequately addressed by a data-savvy CIO with the full picture of how data, processes, platforms and humans converge. And it won't be long until there's a reappearance of this view from the 2014 incarnation of the event that the article below is taken from: that the CIO is a better board-level representative of the marketing function and needs than the CMO him/herself.
The CIO has changed. And while on the face of it, this is good news for those who welcome the return of the simplicity of B2B tech PR of yesteryear, we cannot afford to rely on that sepia-tinged picture. If the CIO's role has changed, then his/her concerns, priorities and personal ambitions have too. Which means influencing this new breed is infinitely more complicated too.
*Given I'm only 32, I'm clearly channeling some sort of tribal nostalgia...
The CIO role is increasingly encroaching on the COO role - with the CIO enjoying the edge due to the IT background, which has to be married to a business understanding. The outlook for chief digital officers is more mixed. On the one hand, insurer RSA has recently moved to appoint a group CDO, as well as a CDO for every region. Likewise, London's new mayor Sadiq Khan also appointed a new CDO for the capital shortly after his election.