Recent Papers and Blogs by Todd Ray


Over the last few years – at Microsoft and otherwise – I have had the opportunity to translate a wide range of customer inquiries and priority areas into (mostly) agenda-free, original guidance documentation, sometimes in the form of blogs, but also in long form papers. In fact, by the time I re-joined Microsoft early in 2015, I had written over 30 pieces, and I get requests for lots of this material a lot, so I decided to categorize and provide links to the content below. Please note that the papers tend to go into much greater depth than the blogs, which (in some cases) were somewhat tainted by marketing agendas.

Also note that much of this material was written as an independent and does not reflect the views of Microsoft, my current employer. In addition, the (non-Microsoft)  strategy consulting function mentioned in some of the papers and blogs may still exist, by I am in no way part of it.

Let me know if you have any questions!,

IT Strategy, Productivity and Enterprise Architecture

  1. Strategies for Delivering Productivity and Value with Information Worker Technologies (October 2015)
  2. Digital Transformation in 2015 and Beyond – The Changing Roles of IT, the CIO, Enterprise Architecture and Strategy (IASA paper, December 2014)
  3. Digital Innovation and Business Transformation (IASA, August 2014)
  4. Navigating the 5 Layers of Strategy Relevant to the Modern Digital Enterprise (May 2016)
  5. Envisioning the Future of End-User Computing and the Modern Digital Enterprise (Paper, July 2016)
  6. Incorporation of the Enterprise Architecture Function as a Key Element of IT Governance (Paper)

Digital Marketing

  1. System-Level Views and Metrics for the Customer Engagement Lifecycle (IASA, November 2014)
  2. Enabling the Rise of the CMT – Introducing the Digital Marketing Reference Model (IASA, September 2014)
  3. CMO Considerations for Digital Marketing (contributor)

Innovation, Design and UX

  1. Digital Innovation and Business Transformation (IASA, August 2014)
  2. The Rising Importance of Design Thinking and UX for Digital Innovation (September 2014)
  3. Developing Agile UX Strategies (September 2013)
  4. A Case for Agile Digital Strategy (September 2013)

Social Computing

  1. Intranet X.0 – Trends and Futures (September 2014)
  2. Re-Launching Your SharePoint Strategy for the SoMo Generation (June 2014)
  3. Avoiding Social Entropy – Getting out of your Social Silo and Into the Big Tent (March 2014)
  4. Agile Social Strategies – Adapting Social Solutions to Modern Workstyles (November 2013)
  5. Social Computing in the Enterprise – Building a Social Computing Strategy (December 2012)

Planning, Governance and Adoption

  1. Critically Re-thinking Governance, Again: Modernizing How You Manage SharePoint (May 2014)
  2. Re-thinking Adoption, Again – Novel Ways to Modernize SharePoint (May 2014)
  3. Business Whitespace Revisited – 10 Things You’re Still Not Doing with SharePoint (April 2014)
  4. SharePoint Planning and Adoption Framework (Paper)
  5. Optimizing Adoption for Business Transformation (Microsoft Paper)
  6. Adoption and Change Management for Enterprise Business Applications (November 2014)

Intranet Trends and Strategic Planning

  1. Intranet X.0 – Taking a Strategic Approach to Modernizing Your Intranet (September 2014)
  2. Intranet X.0 – Trends and Futures (September 2014)
  3. Don’t Forget About Governance for SharePoint WCM/Publishing! (August 2014)
  4. Strategic Briefing – An Un-radical Vision for Intranets in 2014 – Back to Basics, Dialing Back the Hype (September 2014)

Adoption and Change Management for Enterprise Business Applications

As I’ve written about recently in “Re-thinking Adoption, Again“, much of the “adoption and change management” (ACM) world has stayed the same, but a few dynamics are worth noting to bring this discipline up to speed in the modern, digital organization. These dynamics will vary in impact based on a number of factors, but are worth noting as you plan your next employee-facing business application.

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  • True change management still underinvested. Getting people to understand and learn something is one thing, but getting them to change behaviors towards a common business goal is another. This requires active change management that can be a harder sell than traditional application training and enablement.


  • Cloud Quickens TTV. Delivery of technology via cloud models promises to free up resources to work on adoption and change management (vs. the usual focus on developing the technology capability), enabling faster time to value (TTV)
  • Training Mechanisms Evolving. Training still paramount, but execution methods vary. As always, knowing how to use something is key, but improvements in UI/UX, contextual self-help, and P2P support via social mechanisms changes the mix of classroom/virtual/self-help investments needed.
  • Know the audience: Understanding your user segmentation and personas is key to any ACM initiative. Many organizations have already done this as part of other programs; re-use prior artifacts as much as possible.
  • Leverage the mobile dynamic. It’s no secret that end users are increasingly engaging with their enterprise systems via mobile devices, so having a “mobile first” strategy is key to promoting usage.
  • Focus on high value business processes and use cases. Prioritize use case development towards high visibility processes and use to showcase functionality before, during and after rollout.
  • Usability barriers lessened, but challenges remain. 10-15 years ago, many tools in this space suffered from usability issues and avoidance behaviors; many of these issues have been mitigated with a focus on UX (and mobile access), but gravity towards email and spreadsheets will always be a factor only addressable through programmatic approaches that utilize core change management principles (ADKAR, influence strategies, etc.)
  • Last Mile Scaling Strategies. One of the biggest challenges to adoption and change management in large, global organizations is scaling the ACM mechanisms out to different business units, regions and cultures. Defining the right, cost-effectives scaling strategy upfront in the program/project design is thus paramount. E.g., developing “business adoption kits” that roles imbedded in the business take ownership of and leverage in their execution.
  • Organizational capability. Having the right roles, processes and overall operational maturity is key to the success of ACM initiatives.
  • Leverage, Adopt and Supplement Native ACM Practices. Organization vary drastically in their approach to ACM, so program strategists/managers need to quickly assess organizational capability maturity in this regard and leverage/extend as necessary to achieve stated goals.
  • ACM Focus Early in Lifecycle. Planning for adoption and change management needs to start early in the process (ideally in the Discovery/Envisioning stage) so that that the planned execution mechanisms are included in project budgets and built into project delivery (vs. later development as an afterthought).
  • Game the Re-Org. ACM strategies need to take into account possible organizational changes and staff reductions that may impact execution of programs.
  • Manage the overlap. For many application domains, organizations have a plethora of overlapping, competing apps (as well as fall-back methods) resulting in a need for proactive disambiguation – this will only get worse as buying power and governance further shifts application ownership to the business (vs. IT).
  • Impact of peripheral element maturity. For most digital initiatives, data quality, information architecture, governance and other topics will need tending to, which may pose challenges for business ownership not as familiar with these practices as those in IT.
  • Adoption varies with firm-type and culture. Driving end-user adoption of new digital applications in certain (often more traditional, vs. tech forward) companies can be challenging – need to develop an “adoption profile” early on, including the use of maturity models, etc. to determine the right approach.
  • Knowledge gaps. For many newer technologies (e.g. marketing automation), there is a talent shortage and with that, challenges of finding people with knowledge and perspectives within and across functions that comprise organizational capability. This needs to be factored into any ACM strategy.
  • Business owners partner with IT/HR for ACM. With the increasing use of easily procured cloud-based applications, many solutions are procured/owned by business units themselves, which may or may not have the same level of maturity with ACM practices and may need to consult a centralized, shared service function in HR or IT (or outside expertise).
  • Functional variation. Solutions will vary in their need for proactive ACM, so vary programs accordingly.

Enabling the Rise of the CMT – Introducing the Digital Marketing Reference Model

Key Concepts

Digital marketing is rising in prominence in most large organizations, with the CMO function assuming new technical responsibilities and forging much closer relationships with the CIO’s office than ever before. Taking this even further, over 80% of large organizations (as of 2014) have added a new role called the “CMT” – Chief Marketing Technologist – with joint responsibilities across marketing, strategy and technology.

Moving forward, with CMO/CMT allocations expected to surpass those of their CIO partners within a few years (per Gartner), they must grapple with CIO headaches like expanding budgets, strategic alignment, technology governance, enterprise architecture, portfolio management and allocation of resources between run/grow/transform the business. And with leading organizations spending over 30% of their marketing budgets on digital initiatives, the number of software/cloud solutions, platforms, projects and vendors will continue to proliferate at both the corporate and business unit levels. This means that the CMT needs to apply holistic, enterprise architecture practices like portfolio rationalization, business alignment and strategic planning to manage complexity and overall performance on an ongoing basis.

With this in mind, this article provides a short background on a few of the dynamics impacting the rise of the CMT, followed by the introduction of a Digital Marketing Reference Model to help rationalize the increasingly complex world of digital marketing in the context of the broader marketing mandate. A brief discussion of strategic planning for the digital marketing domain is provided here as well.

Background – The Rise of the CMT

In their July-August 2014 HBR article “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist” (R1407F), Scott Brinker and Laura McLellan make the case that the role variously called “Chief Marketing Technologist” (CMT), “Global Head of Marketing Technology”, “Business Information Officer for Global Marketing”, etc. is critical to leading and managing marketing’s “digital marketing” mission.

This is due to the fact that:

  • Marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology-dependent functions in business
  • Customer and prospect engagement are increasingly accomplished through digital channels
  • Customer perception of most firms is dramatically impacted by the perception of digital tools offered to them associated with that firm
  • Executives saying that digital marketing is the most important technology investment
  • Digital marketing budgets are growing
  • Daunting management challenges associated with the proliferation of vendors, platforms and solutions covering an increasingly broad domain of capabilities (e.g. marketing automation, social media management, CRM, customer facing apps, etc.) exist

For this reason, organizations are increasingly bringing in the CMT role to achieve the following goals:

  • Set the technology vision and strategy for marketing
  • Align marketing technology with business goals
  • Champion greater experimentation and more-agile management of the marketing function’s capabilities
  • Serve as a liaison to IT and participate in the evaluation and selection of technology providers
  • Help develop new digital business models (i.e., innovation).
  • Act as change agents, working within the marketing function and across the company to create competitive advantage
  • Act as the connective tissue between four primary constituencies:
    • CMO and other senior marketing executives
    • CIO and the IT organization
    • Broader marketing team (including other marketing disciplines)
    • Outside software and service providers

So that’s a LOT of things to think about. How does a CMT get their hands around all this?

Borrowing from the CIO Toolset – Introducing a Digital Marketing Reference Model

While the CIO’s role varies considerably and is way beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say they’ve had to become adept at using various tools for survival over the years, including those used by business/technology strategists and EA (Enterprise Architect) practitioners. These include domain-specific (e.g. “collaboration and communication”) capability reference models, maturity models, portfolio rationalization models, governance and operating models, EA frameworks, etc.

As a practitioner consulting with CIOs in this space for many years, I’ve adopted and built many models of the type listed above, including what I call “Assessment” or “Reference” models used to get an initial feel for an organization’s current state with respect to a specific domain of capability. This allows me to work with customers to quickly determine interest areas and pain points to focus on, often pursuant to a strategic planning effort related to the subject domain.

Because marketing in general and digital marketing in particular encompasses so many different areas and is evolving so quickly, it is difficult to represent a holistic view in any sort of usable format. To address this gap, here we introduce a “Digital Marketing Reference Model” which should be helpful in any assessment/strategic planning work that your organization is pursuing (or plans to pursue). How this model can be used as part of your digital marketing planning is covered in the next section, including a sampling of questions specific to a few tiers of the model. Descriptions specific to each tier of the model will not be covered in detail here, as this material is otherwise well-covered in the available literature on digital marketing from vendors, analysts and other experts in this space.


Finally, a “vendor”/”product” tier could be easily be added to this model, but the vendor-to-capability mapping for this broad a category is a very complex undertaking and beyond the scope of this article. In the marketing automation part of this world, the following organizations are provided for reference (not intended to be a complete list):

Act-On, Adobe/Neoplane, Aprimo, CallidusCloud, Hubspot, IBM/Unica, Marketo, Microsoft/Dynamics, , Net-Results, Ontrapoint, Oracle/Eloqua,, Salesfusion/Loopfuse, and Silverpop.

Excellent third party coverage of this (and other related) categories is provided by analysts like Gartner, Forrester, etc. (e.g. The Forrester Wave – Lead to Revenue Management Platform Vendors Q1 2014).

Strategic Planning for Digital Marketing

As mentioned previously, solid strategic planning is critical for the success of digital marketing, as with other digital domains. While comprehensive coverage of strategic planning is beyond the scope of this article, the following “10 Step Strategic Planning Model” is provided below to help get you started.

10 Step Strategic Planning Model

A generic 10 Step Strategic Planning Model is provided below for reference. This is adapted from a blog (and paper) on the topic of strategy development from March 2014 (blog reference: What’s Your Altitude? Navigating the 5 Levels of Strategy).


Again, while beyond the scope of this article, this generic model could easily be applied to the digital marketing domain working in conjunction with the Digital Marketing Reference Model provided in the previous section to help with the “Envisioning (& Discovery)” phase of the strategic planning work (items #1-5 in the above diagram). The next section provides a starter set of digital marketing discovery questions that could be used as input to the Envisioning work.

Key Questions:


  • Does your organization have a digital marketing strategy?
  • What techniques are being used to expand brand awareness, and how are you incorporating modern techniques like social listening and proactive customer engagement to understand and take action within your customer base?
  • How are you monitoring/measuring lead/demand generation (and revenue contribution) based on social outreach techniques and integrating that between digital and traditional channels?
  • How is that measurement fed back into the overall strategy and execution plans?


  • What ratio of sales engagements currently result in a closed deal? What steps can you take towards better qualifying leads and improving this ratio?
  • What key metrics do you report on on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis?
  • What are your current KPIs, and how can you show each department’s value?
  • How do you measure campaign ROI?
  • How are you measuring and evaluating your marketing success?
  • What KPIs will you use to determine if your revenue processes are on track?
  • Do you generate enough leads?

Marketing Strategy

  • What are some short-term goals that can be achieved with marketing automation?
  • What are some long-term goals that can be achieved with marketing automation?”
  • What role does email play in your marketing strategy?
  • Do we need to modify our end-to-end business revenue processes and/or improve marketing/sales alignment?
  • Who in your company will use marketing automation?
  • Who will take ownership?
  • What are the marketing strategies that you currently use (email marketing, paid search, webinars, live events, etc.)?
  • Do we have the right skills, staff, culture, etc.?
  • How can you incorporate cross-channel marketing into your efforts?

 Operational Capabilities and Processes

  • Can your team envision demand generation and lead lifecycle processes that align to today’s modern buyer?
  • Do you have someone who can absorb, visualize and discuss large amounts of data and complex concepts, and make decisions to solve problems based on available information?
  • How does your sales team prioritize leads?
  • What defines a sales-ready lead?
  • Does your sales team use a CRM system?
  • How does your lead qualification team prioritize their time?
  • How do you handle marketing-to-sales lead handoff?
  • How will you implement lead nurturing for leads that are not yet ready?

Marketing Automation and Digital Marketing Functions

  • How are you leveraging social media?
  • Are you using your website for lead generation? If so, how can you expand this?
  • How do you manage your forms and landing pages?
  • Do you have enough compelling content?
  • Does your solution record and display all online activities for individual prospects?
  • Do you have dirty data full of duplicates and/or bad records?
  • What is your data cleansing strategy?


Like their CIO partners, CMTs need tools to help make sense of the increasingly broad, deep and complex space of digital marketing. This article presented a Digital Marketing Reference Model and 10 Step Strategic Planning Model to help you start planning the next phase of your digital marketing efforts.

Additional recent articles/papers from the author (papers available upon request)

Recent Blogs

Recent Papers

(Available upon request)

  • Technology Innovation and Business Transformation
  • Intranet X.0 – Taking a Strategic Approach to Modernizing Your Portal
  • Strategies for Delivering Productivity and Value with Information Worker Technologies
  • Navigating the 5 Layers of Strategy Relevant to the Modern Digital Enterprise
  • Envisioning the Future of End-User Computing and the Modern Digital Enterprise
  • An Un-radical Vision for Intranets in 2014 – Back to Basics, Dialing Back the Hype
  • Agile Social Strategies – Adapting Social Solutions to Modern Workstyles