International Speedway: Where the CIO Runs Marketing

The ultimate
proof that the functions of the CIO increasingly overlap those of the CMO (and
vice versa) would be an IT chief who switches careers to marketing. Time will
tell if that’ll ever happen, but the next best thing can be found at
International Speedway Corp.

Craig Neeb is
CIO and VP of multichannel marketing with International Speedway, which owns and/or operates 13 auto racetracks around the country.

"We
decided three years ago that there is an operational segment to
marketing," says Neeb. That segment often is a drag on a marketing team’s
strengths. "Creating this post frees up traditional marketing to deliver
on marketing innovation" that is intrinsic to both marketing and IT.

Marketing is a
primary function of International Speedway, which owns and/or operates 13 auto
racetracks across the United States, including the NASCAR fan favorite,
Talladega Superspeedway. It promotes more than 100 motor sport events annually.

Can one
measure the return on investment of putting the CIO in charge of marketing? Yes, if indirectly, Neeb says.

International
Speedway’s "marketing dollars have gone down, not up. We’re spending less
in mass media and more on digital marketing, and yet we’re doing more in
directed marketing than we were before the change."

My side
(of marketing) includes the call center, site design and all digital channels
and traditional IT," says Neeb, who’s a 30-year veteran of IT.

Wait, site
design?

"Yeah,"
says Neeb. "You can master the art and still fail with navigation. There’s
art and science to online work."

All About Social Media

But it wasn’t
the eternal cool-versus-useful design debate that prompted the firm to create
its joint IT/marketing post. "It was about 2008," Neeb says,
"right when social media started really coming on." International
Speedway executives thought social media would become one of its major
channels. But it’s all shouting in the dark without tools and metrics that can
best be deployed and managed by IT, according to Neeb.

Having a CIO
with a firm footing in marketing helps in creating effective metrics and
methodologies. It also can lead to cohesive goals and a unified culture.

For example,
Neeb has deployed a workflow app used by both IT and marketing on shared
projects. Whereas most sizable firms use such apps, it’s less common to see one
deployed that tracks the progress of IT and marketing single team.

As much as it
might surprise (and unnerve) some, it’s possible that such joint IT/marketing
deployments might be increasingly necessary in today’s competitive business
environment.

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