01:46 PM
Charles Babcock, InformationWeek
Charles Babcock, InformationWeek
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Chief Digital Officer: Where CIO & CMO Meet

Marketing and IT don't need to conflict. Extreme Networks CMO explains how the two can leverage each other's strengths to build a better digital business.

Here's a common enterprise scenario: The chief marketing officer, preparing a marketing campaign, goes into the cloud and launches the campaign on a cluster of virtual servers. The expense for the project comes out of the CIO's IT budget.

When it comes to shadow IT, nobody gets blamed more often than the marketing department. In fact, some observers have even suggested that the CMO should simply be given a share of the CIO's budget.

But Vala Afshar, CMO of Extreme Networks, disagrees. In fact, he wants to convince other CMOs that the CIO is potentially their best friend.

When Afshar, a 1996 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell in electrical engineering, received a message in late 2010 telling him he had a Twitter account, he thought at first he was being spammed. At the time, he didn't even know what Twitter was, and thought it might be some new form of phishing. But he had been an active user of's Chatter since his firm installed it for internal social networking. Afshar said, "The CIO told me, 'I don't find you that interesting -- but for some reason, a lot of people in the company are interested in you.'" Since many of his colleagues were following him on Chatter, the CIO said, he could extend the reach of his comments to a larger audience with a Twitter account.

Afshar, who was interested in marketing and considered the help desk a primary springboard for marketing, commented frequently on how the company should improve its customer relationships. He started doing the same thing on Twitter. "I didn't have a social footprint [prior to Twitter]," he said. But he proved as prolific on the new medium as he had been on Chatter. One week after he sent his first tweets he found himself in an online conversation with Tom Peters, one of the authors of In Search of Excellence (Listen USA, 1985).

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