How to achieve exceptional success as a consumer brand or as a chief information officer (CIO) are the subjects of two articles by Haas faculty in the winter 2012 issue of the California Management Review (CMR), the school's peer-reviewed business journal.
In one article, Marketing Professor Emeritus David Aaker argues in favor of brand relevance over mere brand preference in the battle to win the hearts of consumers. Aaker argues the traditional brand preference model — in which companies promote already existing products as “faster, cheaper, better” — no longer succeeds because of consumers' reluctance to change brand loyalties.
To realize exceptional growth, companies must establish brand relevance by creating goods and services so unique that they form their own categories or subcategories, making the competition virtually irrelevant. The Apple iPod, Asahi Super Dry beer, Westin Hotels & Resorts' Heavenly Bed, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Cirque du Soleil are a few examples cited by Aaker.
Aaker explains how to identify what he terms the “must haves,” the features that will appeal to customers and help define a new category or subcategory. To succeed, companies must also have the staff, culture, and resources to carry out the innovation; the timing must be perfect; and they have to be able to effectively deal with the competition.
In another article, co-author James Spitze, executive director of the Haas Fisher Center for the Management and Technology CIO Leadership Program, determines the factors that contribute to the success of chief information officers a position that is still struggling to establish its place in many organizations.
Spitze explores the careers of 14 exceptionally accomplished CIOs, who were chosen by a six-member selection committee of widely respected industry representatives. They include Dawn Lepore of Charles Schwab, who led the creation of the first Internet stock trading service; the late Max Hopper of American Airlines, who authored the carrier’s SABRE system; and Art Money, the CIO of the Department of Defense under President Clinton from 1999 to 2001.
The research included an interview consisting of 12 conversation-provoking questions, which were given to the CIOs in advance, and a surprise "what next?" question added at the end of the interview.
The study pinpointed the three most essential factors leading to CIO success:
- They must be committed to lifelong learning, regardless of education level. (Some had advanced degrees, while one just a few junior college credits.)
- They must have the skills and experience to carry out a game-changing project with a positive and lasting impact on the end-customer.
- They must be able to surround themselves with excellent people and create and motivate effective cross-functional teams.
In addition, a wide personal network, an exceptional knowledge of the business, emotional intelligence, trustworthiness, and a vision that others will buy into are also keys to a successful CIO career, Spitze concluded.