Earlier this month, the Arthur Page Society unveiled some new research around the changing nature of the CCO position. Essentially, the takeaway was that the CCO role is expanding to include a variety of different disciplines it wasn’t managing just a few years ago.
One of those areas is “CommTech.”
And, so far, CCOs could use a bit more help in this area.
John Iwata, Page Leadership Chair says: “CCOs are furthest ahead with culture and brand and need growth ahead for commtech and use of digital and data.” According to the Page article, Commtech is the greatest source of today’s CCOs angst, meaning “this is going to require investment in knowledge, skills, tools and talent to really build out a new kind of operations for the CCO,” Iwata says.
I’m not surprised.
The big challenge here is that CCOs often play at the 10,000-foot level–and they should. They’re dealing with planning and budgeting. Issues management. Managing expectations with senior execs. That sort of thing.
Deciding on which tech tools to use as a team isn’t typically in their wheelhouse. When you add on the dizzying array of tech tools available to today’s communicator, you start to understand why CCOs are struggling in this area (the people using these tools every day have a hard time keeping up–how’s a senior-executive supposed to do it?).
The big area of opportunity right now is optimization. Because many firms have already secured tools. They’ve signed contracts. They’re locked in. They just need to figure out how to optimize and best work with what they have.
I’ve had a front-row seat to this theater the last 10 years as the number of tools in the “commtech” space has exploded. I’ve sat in on demos. I’ve consulted clients on the best tools to purchase. And, I’ve used a fair amount of these tools in my day-to-day work, too.
So, I have some advice to CCO-types (and anyone who’s dealing with this issue) when it comes to HOW to optimize your existing technology solutions:
Audit your comm tech stack every two years
Even a simple audit that might take a team member a day is well worth the time. Need change. Organizational priorities change. Heck, even the tools themselves change! And, it’s all change that occurs at a very fast speed. So, auditing your stack every two years feels about right given the pace we’re moving at now.
Don’t be afraid to cut bait
You just moved to a new social media management tool, but it’s not giving you the features and benefits the vendor promised when you did the demo. The prudent advice would be to give it some time. Provide feedback and see if things change. But, I wouldn’t wait too long. Again, speed matters. If your tech vendors aren’t moving fast enough when you provide constructive feedback, that might be a signal to cut your losses and go back to your previous vendor.
Give your junior members a seat at the table
After all, they’re the ones using the tools day-in and day-out, right? They know the most about these tools. They’re the experts in the actual tools! So, let them be a part of the decision-making process! In fact, I would argue you should probably give them a fairly big voice in the decision-making process given they’re on the front lines with the tools every day. Side benefit of adopting this approach: by giving these junior folks a seat at the decision-making table, you’re also empowering them, which should aid with retention efforts!
Resist the urge to over-buy
Many companies have big tech stacks right now for this very reason. Their solution to every problem is purchasing technology. That’s usually a recipe for disaster. Technology can be a problem-solver, but only when you have thought through all the angles. Do you have the staff to manage the tech? How does the tech play with your existing tech? Do you really need the tech? It’s that last question I would shout the loudest in meetings. So many times, I see companies buying tech to solve a problem they can usually solve all on their own. Case in point: Influencer marketing tech. One of the biggest selling points, the vendors will tell you, of this tech is its ability to identify new and exciting influencers for your brand. But, that’s rarely true. And, the human brain is better at this task than a computer–at least right now. Yes, it might take a bit more time. But, you’ll also see better results.