Historically, the CMO and CIO were considered very different personalities. While the CIO was busy building and managing technology infrastructure, the CMO taking care of the company’s brand and protecting from market vagaries.
Then along came digital and suddenly brands were not limited to exposure during TV time or on the radio anymore. Suddenly digital technology allowed us to really understand our customers, and not just through research sampling or focus groups with 20-odd people.
CMOs and their organisations have been collecting unprecedented amounts of customer data for a long time–sometimes just sitting in silos, sometimes not used. But now that data is being used effectively to provide insights that increase revenue.
As a result, we have seen a corresponding increase in dependence on the technology required to find prospective customers, identify their “hot buttons,” and reach them through the most effective digital channels.
The CIO has expertise in IT architectures and the execution of large programs needed to generate necessary insights. Together, the CMO and CIO can focus their attention outward to support all types of digital marketing programs, from social media and email campaigns to dynamic web content and customer analytics.
But the CMO and CIO don’t necessarily have a common language with which to communicate. And therein lies the issue: Small misunderstandings between IT and marketing can escalate quickly, especially as CMOs take over technology spend and insert greater strategic influence in 2017, per the oft-cited Gartner study.
What Needs To Change?
From our experience, business-minded CIOs need to join forces with tech-savvy CMOs so they can strategically engage customers throughout their life cycle to drive business growth. While the CIO must lead a strong business technology agenda, the CMO is the chief experience officer. Together, they need to find common ground that benefits their organisation, while the organisation itself needs to think of IT more as a business-revenue facilitator than just another cost of doing business. Such change can be a slow process, however, even when refereed by the company CEO.
Many organisations are making a structural change by creating a new business role: the chief digital officer. The CDO needs to understand customers, data, and technology, and quite a few organisations are on track to appoint CDOs in the APAC region.
Nearly 19% of the world's top 2,500 companies appointed a CDO in 2016, according to a study by Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business. That is triple the number in the same study in 2015. This is ultimately the CEO’s answer to dealing with the divide caused by the CIO/CMO conflict.
Of course, much deeper organisational changes involving structure, processes, and objectives needs to take place apart from just the appointment of a CDO. Yet by harnessing the power of technology, the CDO can play a pivotal role in one-on-one customer marketing.