eBusiness In Financial Services Serves Two Masters

These days one of the top questions we get here at Forrester is around how best to organize for eBusiness. Should the group report to marketing? Should it report to IT? Should it be centralized, or should it be decentralized? Tons of industry brainpower has been spent thinking about these questions.

The answer reminds me of the old SNL skit for Shimmer where the husband and wife argue about whether Shimmer is a floor wax or a dessert topping, and in the end the announcer tells them emphatically, "New Shimmer is both a floor wax and a dessert topping!" The right eBusiness organizational structure is one that reports to both marketing and IT. Why? Because eBusiness has two masters: eBusiness is both a channel and an enterprise function.

Let me explain. Nobody would argue that the ATM is a servicing channel and not an enterprise function like corporate marketing. On the flip side, nobody would consider corporate marketing a channel versus an enterprise function, which it is, but eBusiness fills both roles in most financial service companies. It is a servicing channel for existing customers looking to servicing their accounts, but it also has a marketing and sales enterprise function along the lines of corporate marketing.

I have recently published a document on the Forrester Web site where I explore the implications of this dilemma in organizing for eBusiness. I welcome any feedback on my approach, and look forward to any more blog posts where I can reference SNL.




If the charge of eBusiness is

If the charge of eBusiness is to support the customer experience (in its broadest role), then it should fall under Marketing. I write this because the Marketing function tends to have KPIs that lend itself to revenue, retention and satisfaction. Save for maybe satisfaction, most IT groups don't operate along those lines and focus on costs. This is an area of budget that most CMOs tend to be ambivalent about managing, as it raises the stakes in their accountability.

Marketing Vs IT

Thanks for the comment.

Our research shows that that indeed is what is happening most often these days - eBusiness groups are reporting into marketing. I would say that even in these cases it is important for there to be a dotted line to IT (or a channel manager if one exists) such that there is continuity to other channels in the company.