In late 2014, Williams Martini Racing signed Avanade as its technical partner, in a multi-year agreement that has seen both companies work closely to create a new website among other projects for the 2015 Formula One race season.
In fact, Williams Martini Racing’s CIO, Graeme Hackland and Avanade’s CMO, Stella Goulet, have helped build a pipeline of 50 digital, ‘cloud-first’ projects around the world.
“Marketing for the website is the first area,” says Hackland. “At the end of this initial phase, we recruited an internal team within Williams who can run with it and we bring in Avanade to help us with some of the specialist portals and content that we want to create,” he says.
Both execs worked together to ensure the new website was turned around in six weeks.
“We need the media to be able to get in and get access to content that we generate at races around the world. We use it as our main means of getting news out from the team. We use it more for fans, which is probably where we haven’t had as much traction with the older website,” Hackland says.
Williams Martini Racing is also working with Avanade to digitise workflow across the organisation in areas like human resources, says Hackland. The company has rolled out SharePoint Online, and moved from Lotus Notes to Office 365 and Microsoft Lync to improve information flow across the organisation.
Currently, Williams Martini Racing puts half of the resources it receives from Avanade towards its performance engineering applications – the apps it uses at the track to improve the performance of its F1 cars.
The first app – a tyre optimisation solution – went live during last month’s F1 race in Melbourne. The app provides engineers with statistics around the performance of tyres and how long they are expected to last.
“It’s all about [using technology] to make the car quicker… and Avanade is helping me deliver [these solutions],” says Hackland.
Williams Martini Racing needs to create new products after every race and roll out agile services faster than most companies.
Hackland says that race-by-race during the 2015 season, Williams Martini Racing will add functionality to its technology platforms using a proper testing regime, which the organisation has not had in place previously.
"We need to bring in a lot of expertise around software development testing and move towards automated testing. Avanade is helping us with that," says Hackland.
"In the past, we haven't always focused on the user and their experience. That's something that both companies are really focused on producing. We've had a UX [user experience] designer come in and help us with that.
"We want to build things that are intuitive for any engineer and we are getting that knowledge from Avanade because we don't have it internally."
Finding the right tools, opening up data
A a marketer, Goulet says having a relationship with IT is vital and the new partnership with Williams Martini Racing is doing great things for the Avanade brand.
"Clearly the nature of F1 being a global sport is great for our business to reach our audiences and for us to be able to get brand awareness," Goulet says. "More importantly, it’s about working to help the Williams team to get better success and performance both on and off the track."
Working closely with IT specialists also helps marketers overcome the challenge of choosing the right digital tools to reach customers quickly.
“When I started marketing in the 1990s, the fastest way to get to a mass audience was by fax machine. I remember feeding stuff into a fax machine to get it around. Now there’s a proliferation of tools so it has become more complicated… it’s a challenge to get those tools put together in the right framework and integration into systems.
“You can go out and buy tools to get data or leads but if you don’t work with IT to get them integrated into back office systems, you lose a lot of value that would gain by having the end-to-end view of the customer.”
Marketers aren't known for their analytical skills and the IT department is in a good place to play a pivotal role around collecting, managing and having one view of data for better decision making, says Goulet.
But the IT department certainly needs to be more open and make data available to marketing, adds Hackland. Delivering data to marketing for quick analysis shouldn't be a challenge for the CIO and the IT department, he says.
“IT has traditionally tried to exert a huge amount of control. The reason we are in this situation now and talking about a CIO/CMO split is because the CIOs weren't open to that relationship and didn't focus on what the CMO needed,” he said.
“It’s no longer about control, our [CIO] role is to protect the company and data and protect the executives who are going to go to jail if that data goes missing.
“That’s the role that we can play. We shouldn't care what devices people are using, we shouldn't be trying to lock everything down – we should be setting the standards. We used to control the OS and devices, in the world we live in now, it’s not the right thing to do,” Hackland says.
“It is a partnership because ultimately the CIO and the CMO want the same thing, they want the company to be successful and they are both on the same journey.”
Goulet adds that the CIO/CMO relationship is about having shared goals and priorities.
“If the CIO and CMO don’t have a great relationship, you start by meeting regularly, talking about the business goals, coming up with some shared goals, creating a level of trust and maybe picking a couple of projects to do together,” Goulet says.
An extended relationship
Williams Martini Racing's own CMO also works closely with Goulet and the rest of the marketing department at Avanade to provide messaging around the technical services being delivered by the organisation.
"There are two strands to this relationship where we have to deliver quality products very quickly that can be used to help us gain competitive advantage, but at the same time we want to share those stories about our success together," says Hackland.
"So there has to be a strong relationship between our marketing team and Stella and her team as well. From early on, we've seen that go really well," he says.