A visiting technology expert from the United States says Kiwi chief information officers may be missing a trick by not working closely enough with their counterparts in marketing.
Rich Vancil is group vice-president, executive advisory strategies at International Data Corporation (IDC), a firm that offers advice for companies investing in technology.
Before speaking at this month's CIO (chief information officers) conference, he told the Herald CMOs - chief marketing officers - are struggling to fully use technology to market their firms to customers.
"There are many software applications covering everything we do at work, but what many CIOs are missing is the link between business systems and marketing," he says.
"What's happening today is that there is a rush of new tools for the marketing areas that the CMOs are trying to bring into the organisation.
"Trouble is, the CMOs often do not have the technical capability to make those [purchase] decisions, or run those tools effectively."
The problem, says Vancil, comes down to people working in each discipline having a different culture, mindset, and speaking a "different language".
"From the CIOs' side, they often do not have the understanding of the marketing area - which is seen more as an art than a science," says Vancil. "So there is a bit of an organisational dilemma here between the CIO and the CMO about all these marketing tools.
"We have all seen companies and industries being disintermediated because of new technologies, and I think most organisations know they need to do their marketing and selling in a more progressive and aggressive way - using digital marketing.
"Therefore, I think my greatest piece of advice for the CIO is to spend more time with the CMO - understand the importance of marketing and selling, and try to make more contributions on the tools and IT support you can give to the marketing area - this includes email databases, campaign management tools, and social listening tools."
To get a clue as to the problems some CMOs face, IDC found there are now more than 75 categories of marketing software and systems from hundreds of suppliers.
"How can a CMO make decisions faced with such a wide range of options without talking to their CIO to help them along this complex path?"
Vancil says key to the success of any system is the "customer experience".
"What organisations are trying to do from a technology standpoint is to give their customers ... a 'seamless experience'," he says. "That means that what customers experience online is what they should experience in a physical store.
"For example, you go online and see certain products at specific prices, and then you may go to that company's store but you can't find the product or it is at a different price. So that is a set up for a really lousy experience, because customers are smart, buyers do their research.
"Think about the different functions of a company that touches the customer. Marketing, sales, shipping, billing, service, support ... and sometimes those tools do not talk to each other and you get mistakes. It's the CIO's job to get systems tied together so customers get a unified experience.
"So all these applications ... they need to be able talk to each other, they need a unifying function, and that is one of the opportunities for the CIO."
From what he has seen, Vancil says New Zealand CIOs are pretty advanced with their thinking and systems, but concedes there is a difference between small and large firms with bigger resources and budgets.
"It is a very difficult time to be a CIO as there are some very big fundamental things going on," he says.
"If people consider what has been happening in industry that affects the CIO, a lot of it has been confined to the building they work in.
"So they have been building up the enterprise, the structure, the [data] storage, connectivity, software ... this is the era that IDC calls the second platform era.
"It is all about client server computing, the LAN internet - that has been very complex - but most of that work in most large firms has been done ... The fundamental architecture is there - so a lot of the work now is maintenance and upgrades.
"I don't want to minimise how important things such as security are, and it doesn't mean that the challenges aren't there - but the more interesting thing for the CIO today is what I call the third platform.
"This is all about computing and connectivity outside the four walls of the organisation.
"This includes cloud computing, mobile applications, social business apps and the big data and analytical applications. This is about all the workers in the organisation doing their own computing, buying their own applications, doing their own connections.
"Now if you put yourself in the shoes of the CIO, that's a whole other issue in addition to what's happening inside the firm - so now you have this dual headache.
"This is why the job of being a CIO is becoming so complex. And adding to the complexity is that if something goes wrong, it could be a thankless task for the CIO to explain issues such as why the computer network was breached, or why it went down."
Vancil says CIOs are increasingly having to think on their feet, be proactive and solve problems before they arise.
"The better CIOs are bringing innovations to their organisation, they are not just playing defence to protect it. They are being proactive, to help the business' executives bring in innovative tools and innovations."