One of my current research projects is to define how EA teams capture and express business strategy. Early in the process I am finding a lot of variation in how organizations articulate strategy. In my preliminary interviews I have heard three basic definitions of strategy:
Many companies are at the height of the IT strategic-planning season. For some, this is an annual ritual tied to the budgeting process. For others, this is part of a long-range planning process, with an annual review to check on progress. Still other CIOs are approaching the development of an IT strategy as an integral part of an ever-evolving business strategy, with regular adjustments as the business units flex and respond to market changes. Whatever your perspective, it’s apparent that in the past executives outside of IT have given scant attention to the machinations of the IT strategy — but this is surely changing.
The operational performance of any business unit is now so heavily dependent upon the effective and efficient deployment of appropriate technology that planning a business strategy without also planning technology strategy is like planning to win Formula One without any telemetry. You can’t even get to the starting grid.
Love it or loath it, we can't escape the marketing funnel. It's under our collective skin.
Why? For a start, most marketers agree that only some of the people who are aware of their product are actually considering it. And only a portion of these people will go on to prefer it, buy it, and perhaps become loyal users. We could illustrate this observation in a number of ways. For example, we could draw a dartboard with "total addressable market" as the largest outside circle and "loyal customers" as the smallest circle in the center. Likewise, drawing a funnel is a natural and useful way of making this very basic point.
If only marketing were that simple. In truth, marketing is a messy business. For example, moving from awareness to consideration and preference might be sound advice for a rational shopper, but actual buyer behavior involves heavy doses of emotion and chaos. And loyalty is not the end of a customer's journey; it's a state that the marketer must cherish and sustain, hopefully leading to positive word of mouth.
On top of this, one can imagine a boorish marketer taking the funnel a little too literally. Draw it with the wide end at the top, and you can imagine some marketers believing that the more water they pour into the top, the more water they will watch gush out of the bottom. Of course, most marketers are smart people who use the funnel without abusing it, but it would be nice if we could find a model that was 100% idiot proof.