Why one technology start-up is ditching the role of CIO

We talk with Australian online marketplace, hipages Group, about why its marketing and engineering teams are in charge of technology management

While the boundaries around the roles and responsibilities of CIOs and CMOs at large organisations continue to shift and morph, an interesting trend is emerging across Australia’s technology-based start-ups.

Newer technologies and concepts such as cloud computing and agile development mean that many of the traditional jobs of the IT function simply no longer exist. And at those companies where digital marketing is their heart and soul, responsibility for technology management is devolving to the functions that use it, such as marketing, product development and engineering.

This model is far from widespread, but it is becoming increasingly common amongst technology-based businesses, and may have ramifications as more traditional businesses make their way towards the cloud and agile development.

One example is the Sydney-based online marketplace operator, hipages Group, an 86-person company which operates a business directory that connects consumers to tradespeople. According to hipages Group’s chief marketing officer (CMO), Stephen Keighery, his company is one of Australia’s largest users of Google AdWords, working with 6 million keywords to market the services of 40,000 tradespeople across 1100 categories.

“We would spend more on AdWords than many companies spend on above-the-line advertising,” Keighery says. “And we’ve had to use a lot of tools to make that happen.”

As an example, hipages Group was one of the first users of Google Scripts, which allows it to pause and restart AdWords campaigns easily based on the data it is receiving from its website.

“Those sorts of things have allowed us to be really efficient in our spending,” Keighery says.

But it is the way hipages Group organises its internal resources that sets it apart from more traditional businesses. For instance, a large proportion of the operation is run in the cloud on Salesforce.com, but rather than manage it from within an IT group, development and maintenance is decentralised, with responsibility taken by engineering, product, marketing and various operations teams.

Hipages Group’ vice-president of product, Dino Talic, says this approach is also reflected in how the company tackles core product development. Rather than being divided into functions, hipages Group maintains a series of growth teams, each aligned to a specific metric. In this way it has avoided building an IT function and hiring a CIO, with technology-related decisions being taken from areas such as marketing and engineering.

“Technology is at the very core of what we do, we are a technology company,” Talic says. “Our CEO has an engineering background and I have an engineering background, so there are a lot of technical people on the team. Even within our online marketing team a lot of our guys are very apt at using technology.”

These autonomous growth teams consist of skills including engineers, online marketers, designers, product managers and even a data scientist.

“Traditional teams sit within their own silos, and they might not talk very often,” Talic says. “But if you put a marketer and an engineer in a room, things get done very fast and we see measureable results really quickly from that.”

Related:Do you need your own technologist?

Keighery says this structure is a response to the nature of the business and its evolution.

“A big reason that product, tech and marketing sit so close together is that we really can’t divorce the growth of the product from the product itself,” Keighery says. “Being a marketplace, the size of the marketplace impacts on the quality of that product or the experience that that user gets.

“The bigger that community is, the more valuable the product becomes. So customer acquisition for us, and working with the online marketing team, is crucially important because that goes to the heart of our product build-out and how good an experience users have on our site.”

Hence the growth teams are given everything they need to achieve their objectives.

“Having a CIO at the top dictating the structure or the tools that can be used can be a little stifling to that growth,” Keighery says. “Part of the growth methodology is really about testing and iterating. So a lot of the hypotheses we form will include [investigation of] a minimum viable product, and most CIOs would really hate that.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Why 2017 will herald a resurgence of values-based marketing

It doesn’t take long for predictions to become predictable: The rise and rise of Facebook; advancements in analytics; the normalisation of chatbots; personalisation, programmatic, automation, authenticity… The prediction that’s missing from these lists is that in 2017 we will witness a resurgence of values-based marketing.

Jacqueline Burns

Founder, Market Expertise

Why customer experience driven growth is set to take off

Our overall brand perceptions are invariably shaped by our experiences. And loyal customer relationships can be severed in moments by a negative service interaction.

Consistency and conversation: How branding and advertising can work better together

Advertising and branding are two of the most visible outputs of marketing, which is why getting them right is so important. However, too often the line between branding and advertising becomes blurred. This means advertising activity can be out of sync with brand, resulting in poor results for both functions.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

Someone needs a swift kick up the bum for such an idiotic idea.

random

​Why a degree is no longer enough to get you hired as a skilled marketer

Read more

The frequent flyer programs are the new profit machines for airlines all over the world, as they have morphed to be mass marketing machin...

Steve@iFLYflat

Velocity frequent flyers program strong performer in mixed half-year for Virgin

Read more

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing these info regarding the digital marketing trends.I've created a related video to this topic, would you m...

Fabio Carry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Great news. Marketing automation can be very useful for companies at various stages of development. With so many tools out there it's bet...

Ben

How HBF rolled out marketing automation in eight months

Read more

I read a report that the business sector in Australia as a whole have yet to fully harness and see the proactive change that predictive a...

Alex Martin

Report: Predictive analytics, IoT, machine learning battle it out for marketing dollars

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in