Compliance will Soon Be a CIO’s Biggest Challenge

Torsten Behle, CIO Worldwide, FCB Global, talks about the importance of adopting digital and why compliancy is soon going to be a hot issue for CIOs.

Radhika Nallayam Feb 02nd 2015 A-A+

Torsten Behle, CIO Worldwide, FCB Global, talks about the importance of adopting digital and why compliancy is soon going to be a hot issue for CIOs.

The role of the chief digital officer is on the rise. How could this possibly change your job as a CIO?

Digital is already a key focus for me in FCB. I have been in discussions with other executives about whether we need a chief digital officer. However, we need to understand that the scope of digital is quite different in the advertising industry as compared to a retail or an e-com industry. They need to have a CDO to focus on digital as a separate channel. In our industry, we need to make sure that digital is part of our DNA. We ensure that our strategy and whatever we do for our clients always includes a digital view.

As the CEO of our Chicago agency rightly says, “We don’t have a chief broadcast or chief copywriting officer. Similarly, we don’t need a chief digital officer.” Digital is part of our standard portfolio.  

Also Read: Deep Diving into Data: Emerging Role of the CDO   

We are trying to make sure that we don’t use social media channel as a commodity. I believe social media is a highly individualistic and strategic discussion.

IPG has been talking about standardization of different functions across its agencies. Is that happening to IT as well? And what sort of impact would that have on FCB?

IPG, with its 45,000 employees, has three major agencies: McCann Worldgroup, Lowe and Partners, and FCB. With that kind of a structure, IPG is obviously trying to standardize on anything that is not in competitive advantage to the agencies. So, IPG is standardizing on areas like network, security and e-mail.

When it comes to the next level of IT, like applications, storage, data specifications and database skills, agencies are pretty much independent. My focus is on these areas within FCB. However, we do have an IPG governance meeting every month which involves CIOs from all agencies. But most of the change or innovation happens where FCB is independent of IPG. This ranges from our HR tools and CRM tools to database skills and big data, among other things.

Also Read: Marico Uses Digital Marketing to Reach out to Gen Next  

We are trying to make sure that we don’t use social media channel as a commodity. I believe social media is a highly individualistic and strategic discussion.

What is the IT department doing today to cultivate a direct customer relationship?

In the advertising world, IT very rarely has direct contact with customers. But I do have a relationship with some of the key customers in areas like processes and compliance. There is not much pressure on me to be customer-centric at this stage. We are internal consultants when it comes to digital. I don’t see IT having a regular conversation with clients. 

What is the biggest change that your industry is likely to undergo in 2015 and what kind of a challenge does that pose to IT?

One of the biggest challenges that we are going to face very soon is the rise of compliancy requests from clients. Clients want to see certifications as part of the contract and we are already engaging ourselves in a number of certifications. So, agencies who have compliancy and data privacy certifications certainly have a competitive advantage.

Having said that, I have seen that compliance is going to be less of a focus in markets like India. But everywhere else, it’s going to be a major challenge. In Russia, for instance, the recent law states that all data that belongs to Russian companies should stay in Russia. The consequences certainly impact IT leaders as well. In fact, compliancy is becoming one of the big issues when it comes to the use of cloud. So it needs to evolve. We have to educate clients in many cases.

What impact does social media have on the advertising world? Do you think it’s overhyped?

It’s definitely not overhyped. On the contrary, I feel not many agencies have understood how to use this medium effectively. We have been one of the early adopters of social media. It’s a very important channel for us and we have already started doing social media-only campaigns.

We are trying to make sure that we don’t use the channel as a commodity. I believe social media is a highly individualistic and strategic and it really depends on what makes sense for specific brands. 

Who’s driving social media initiatives within FCB? Is it IT?

It’s not IT. It’s driven by our strategic planning department. We have got a head of strategic planning in UK who works with all the strategic teams across the globe. And I think that’s exactly how social media initiatives should be driven.

Radhika Nallayam is assistant editor, IDG Media. Send your feedback to radhika_n@idgindia.com. Follow Radhika on Twitter at @radhikanallayam