I noticed an interesting job advertisement in the papers over the weekend. The job title – Online Communications Manager – caught my eye, as I had recently been wondering when we will see organisations  invest the same levels of resources into managing their relationships and interactions with customers over digital channels as they do, say, in-store.

I read the advert expecting to catch a glimpse of a ‘weak signal’ indicator of maturation in organisational stewardship of digital channels. Instead, I was rather appalled by what I read.

The advert, placed by a “Top 10 ASX” financial services company, describes the position and role criteria in these terms:

[Y]ou will be responsible for developing and implementing the overall online strategic framework and business rules around our front line customer websites. Acting as business consultant around web usage and measurement, you will be considered the online expect. The ability to manage key stakeholder relationships, facilitate web-based enhancements and ensure all content is succinct, thereby increasing audience cut through, is what makes you outstanding.To be considered you will have a demonstrated background in managing websites and an online channel with a good grasp of html coding.

The organisation clearly believes their online channel is important (they speak of it requiring a ‘strategic framework’), and their sites would appear to play a role affecting several ‘key stakeholders’ in the business. Yet, the primary criteria for the role seems to be technical, rather than strategic or commercial.

Let’s recast this example into a retail context. Imagine a major retailer advertising the role of manager of a department store. This person would be responsible for ‘implementing the overall strategic framework and business rules around our front line customer sales’. S/he would act ‘as a business consultant around floor space usage and sales measurement’ and have responsibility for managing ‘key stakeholder relationships’. The person would be considered the ‘retail expert’.

Do you think the role criteria would read: ‘To be considered you will have a demonstrated background in managing a sales counter with a good grasp of retail displays’?

Not likely.

Most companies still do not believe that their digital channels warrant significant senior management oversight or leadership. Implicit in job advertisements such as this is the view that digital channels are an addendum rather than a core aspect of business operations.

Far too many CEOs still speak of developing a ‘digital business strategy’. This is a telling misnomer.