The International Food Group (IFG) was the largest purveyor of food products in the world. Since IFG went public in the 1980s they continued to grow while acquiring companies by the dozen each year. Some of the companies were competition that needed to be eliminated while others had good ideas which IFG liked. Josh’s company, Glow-Foods, fortunately had some ideas that attracted IFG. Josh, while not very important himself was asked to meet with John Ahern and Tonya James, manager if IT marketing. John and Tonya were impressed with Josh’s work at Glow-Foods using social networking and other multimedia to market Glow-Foods. His ability to reach the under-thirty demographic is what really impressed management at IFG. Tonya explained how IFG wanted Josh to help them reach the youth and young adult market with IT. Josh would get a team and whatever resources he needed to accomplish this. Weeks later Josh met his team to begin work. He first met with Tonya, who expressed her excitement in having Josh onboard. Tonya would be responsible for helping Josh work through the many obstacles she knew would lay ahead. The obstacles were within IT as well with the larger company as a whole. Tonya introduced Josh to Rick Visser, the chief technology officer.
Rick was in charge of architecture, security, risk management and the technology roadmap. Rick quickly reminded him there are procedures must be followed. It did not take long for Josh to realize there might be a bit more obstacles than he would like. Moving from a smaller company like Glow-Foods to IFG meant drastic changes in the process. Initially issues began to surface slowly, starting with a polite email from Visser reminding the team that access to instant messaging and Facebook required prior approval from his group. Next a request to outline proposed work, with costs and benefits for the next fiscal year, beginning six months from now. Josh and his team were understandably frustrated since they had to be innovative and think outside the box while following a very restrictive process. Josh and his team worked through the obstacles and come up with a three pronged marketing plan. First, using an interactive web site with real time responses from internal staff the company could connect directly to customers about new product development ideas. Second, reach out to different communities to gain insight into their needs to help guide future marketing plans and third, implement all these ideas on the cloud.
This would allow for easy scalability while linking with the company databases. Several obstacles where mentioned immediately. What are the business values and initiatives? What if these customers don’t like our company or our products and say bad things about us? How do we handle these situations? There was also great concern about the cloud. IFG did not have the cloud in its architecture and there was a fear of having too much company information vulnerable to anyone on cyberspace. They also mentioned the cloud idea was tried a few years back and it did not go well. Josh needed to win support for his three-point plan to use technology to reach its customers. There are several avenues Josh can take. For the first item, I believe Josh can do several things to help alleviate fear of an interactive web site. One would be to reach out to others who may be doing something similar and get their feedback. Another would be to just lay out some basic procedures for getting negative feedback. Chances are there will obviously be some for one reason or another; maybe the idea of coupons or refund programs could be looked into, although outside the IT realm, there could be others in the company who could help with this idea.
The second talking point of reaching out to different communities did not appear to get a lot of push back. It may be that this idea can proceed with little resistance. The third and the most controversial talking point is the cloud. Josh would definitely have to work closely with Rick and come up with a cost effective plan that works for the company, at the same time will alleviate their fears of the “cloud”. A well laid out plan explaining the process, the risk management and the benefits of the cloud will help win support for this final point of his plan. In conclusion, in Josh’s own words he has hit the big time. While the company policies require a much more strict business process each of them needs and can be worked through.
IT appears there was an initial conversation with John, where Tonya mentioned the enormous roadblocks that are present because of all the procedures in place. The team needed room to be creative while still working within the system. John appeared to be receptive to further meetings to allow this to happen. Until then, while working within the system, Josh needs to adapt to the new business process, since resisting it will only hurt his cause for new IT marketing ideas. All of his talking points in his three pronged IT marketing attack were very good, Josh and his team need to be a bit more thorough and try their best to have answers to every possible situation.
McKeenm, James D., Smith, Heather A. IT Strategy: Issues and Practices. Upper Saddle River, NJ