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    Why IT is key in the new marketing wave

    by Ian Hight

    In my last article, I joined the growing debate about the increasing need for closer cooperation between IT and marketing to enable business transformation. I summed up:
    ‘Inevitably, marketing is poised to exert even more influence over technology spending. But doing so without the solid foundation of a strong cross-functional collaboration with IT makes will not work. Marketing and IT have no choice but to get on the same page of the hymn book and drive business value by working together as strategic partners.’

    In this article I focus on a hugely important area, data management (encompassing big data and analytics), where IT can help with the rapid changes that marketing is undergoing as it shifts the organisation to become more customer-centric.

    That there is professional antipathy between IT and marketing is borne out in surveys. Accenture, in a recent study, found that ‘43% of CMOs complain that the technology development process is too slow, while an equal percentage of CIOs say marketing requirements and priorities change too often for them to keep up. On the plus side, 43% of CMOs and half the CIOs say they're working more collaboratively than ever.

    (In the mid-tier New Zealand corporates we work with we find that there are generally good personal and business relationships between CIO and CMO but it is the time and resource pressures that slow the building of closer relationships.)

    CMOs (I will use this acronym now) have generally worked through their career without close engagement with IT. But most, if not all, realise that meeting the challenge of become a customer-centric organisation will involve smarter, forward-thinking use of marketing technology. And relationship-wise it means taking on a more significant role on the executive team and collaborating with CIOs more fully.

    Data management is not just for IT
    IBM, in its 2014 CMO insights from the Global C-suite Study, reported that 82% of the CMOs we interviewed told us they felt underprepared to deal with the data explosion. While this is staggering, what is also remarkable is that it was an 11% uplift from the 2011 Study!

    To lead the shift to a customer-centric organisation obsession the CMOs need to up-skill themselves in analytics and immerse themselves in data-based customer insights to develop exceptional customer experiences. This data will come from within marketing but also from product design, sales, customer service, logistics and production/operations – right across the organisation.

    Accenture, IBM and Forrester, amongst others, all conclude that CIOs and CMOs need each other to deliver actionable insight with big data and emerging data collection and analytics tools. The CIO brings the expertise in determining the quality of the data, as well as the process of acquiring and analysing it. The CMO brings the expertise of how the data can be used to drive business decisions.

    The CIO brings the knowledge of what is possible through technology, while the CMO pushes IT further by asking the right questions, giving them the right ideas, and pushing them to find a way. The responsibility to leverage data to drive an integrated data strategy to deliver an end-to-end view of customer behaviour , however, is shared.

    IT’s vendor management experience can help
    Big data has reinvigorated a range of BI vendors, such as IBM, Oracle and SAP, and brought in a myriad of new and niche players. Finding and managing IT vendors is much more complex than working with marketing agencies. The CIO can brings their years of experience to help the marketing director with processes and practices that save them time while enabling them to find the best solutions for their needs.

    To help, the CIO should engage with marketing to understand their strategies to drive revenue, increase customer satisfaction and reduce costs. And then stay one step ahead of marketing in order to stay abreast of the technology!

    A shared vision
    One of the major benefits for IT is that it becomes an even greater driver of business value as it underpins all department cooperation around information. With digital marketing initiatives in place, IT is better placed to show how it can increase its role in developing and delivering a business technology agenda for the organisation.

    The new CIO-CMO relationship that organisations need is summed up well by Brian Whipple, senior managing director of Accenture Interactive: "The CMO needs to develop a vision and strategy for how customers experience the brand, while the CIO needs to deliver the tools and technology to bring those experiences and campaigns to life."

    (Accenture has a major focus on the CIO-CMO relationship and you can see more here)

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