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June 13, 2014

Teamwork & the Chief Content Officer - Essential for Digital Innovation

By Bob Wallace, Founder, Fast Forward Thinking LLC

While research based on surveys is most valuable in identifying trends and understanding customer behavior, reports that don’t take a broad enough approach in scope tell only a small piece of a far larger story.

That was the case this week when results of a report showed that chief marketing officers (CMOs) are better positioned than others to drive digital innovation in their enterprises.

Broader surveys are tougher, but when it comes to digital media efforts, especially video-driven ones, they would have the biggest bang with businesses. But, only if they mentioned the role of the chief content officer and the chief technology officer, without whom video efforts are challenged at best.

Teaming with Talent

Most importantly, digital media projects require a team approach with the above mentioned C-level executives fully involved. There is no ‘I’ in success and who wields the most power/is best positioned between the CMO and other key stakeholders is of little import in enterprises thinking visual to expand their brands.

In fact, this kind of focus is more likely to fuel counterproductive power struggles, politics and turf wars that have very rarely ended well when brought to light over the decades (including the years before the web took flight and became relevant to businesses and consumers.)

And while the role and purview of CMOs has expanded markedly, there are yet other C-level executives whose knowledge and skills could make the difference between a smooth launch and a rough ride with digital media initiatives.

How can we forget about the CSO (chief security officer) in a time where we seem to hear of at least one huge customer data hack a month? You don’t want ‘secure website’ to become an oxymoron. And I’m certain I’m missing a few C-level execs.

Video-Driven Efforts

As is especially the case with video-driven digital media undertakings, the chief marketing officer needs to work closely with the chief content officer and the chief technology officer to ensure the project doesn’t attain ‘worst practices’ status after launch.

Video requires a fast-evolving list of skills, knowledge and resources not often brought together for less engaging efforts. Further, it must be determined when and with what third parties to partner with to cover the required knowledge spectrum.

Oftentimes, chief content officers create or play a big role in application construction, enabling a vast sea of wired and especially wireless devices of all shapes and sizes to stream live and on-demand video content anywhere.

Just to give you an idea of the areas that are core to video-driven digital media marketing efforts consider just a subset of the steps from video creation to customer viewing.

Roll the Video

Video-driven digital media marketing undertakings are inherently more complicated and demanding because they require an expanded skill set that includes knowledge of (expertise in) content creation, encoding, players, multi-device publishing platforms, digital rights management, content curation, optimal delivery and distribution, all with a picture-perfect result in mind.

Advances in video are as much or more about technology than marketing. Many entities with marketing savvy still find themselves with overloaded websites, outages in customer-facing systems, data loss, low-quality streams and a customer experience that needs serious improvement – if you’re fortunate enough to get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Underestimating the importance of the chief technology officer and technology is a recipe for success starvation. The technology function is charged with keeping pace with fast-moving and always changing technology and network infrastructure developments that help companies better and more effectively engage their customers with video. Without a solid, flexible and expandable network foundation, and knowledge of once that fluctuate – like the Internet – you could be building a house of cards.

The Chief Content Officer

With the ascension of digital media marketing efforts with fat content at their core, the need for a multi-skilled chief content officer has moved relatively quickly to the fore.

Whether you are a publishing company, an e-tailer, a TV service provider, an entertainment firm, a sports league or a news station, having a chief content officer is of paramount importance in digital media marketing initiatives.

Why? It’s simple. Companies in these industries all create a gigantic amount of content (especially video). Owning content is optimal, but storing, organizing, indexing, searching and driving recommendations from it is in itself a major undertaking that many are addressing but few have solved.

Specific technologies and related services and products are required to create libraries – not disorganized warehouse dumping grounds – of created video content. Storage is one thing, but being able to find what specific video clip you need for a promotion, website or stream (whether it was created last night or last year) is the far tougher challenge.

And timing is almost everything. Is the video being featured in a TV news report, a weather forecast, on a gas pump-top TV screen or on in-store TV monitors?

That’s where today’s chief content officer comes in. Without an over-arching content strategy spanning content creation, distribution, curation, storage and discovery of video assets, this priceless content is without real value.

The Bottom Line

Instead of determining whether the CIO or CMO or a third party is best positioned to drive innovation for digital media projects, all eyes should be focused on the broader issue of how to build a C-level team that collectively has the skills and knowledge to translate digital into dollars by using content to capture customers.

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Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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