OPINION: So, a CMO and a CIO walk into a bar ...

Graham Kittle
By Graham Kittle | 17 December 2012

More than ever, CIOs and CMOs need to be on the same team.

That’s the fundamental message IBM heard from Chief Marketing Officers in a recent survey of more than 350 marketers around the globe, including Australia.

According to 60% of these marketers, the biggest obstacle they face when it comes to connecting with consumers is the lack of close relationships with their corporate tech groups.

Why is this partnership becoming so crucial? Through social networking, mobile computing and consumer-generated content, consumers are more informed, powerful and firmly in control of corporate brands than ever before. To remain relevant, marketers must become just as deft at mastering these technologies.

At the same time, the deluge of online sharing that consumers are busily engaged in gives marketers the opportunity to start connecting with individuals one-on-one, to understand what customers expect from the brands they do business with, to learn how their tastes are changing, and to pinpoint the new products and services that consumers want.

That’s why CMOs realize how crucial it is to partner with Chief Information Officers today. To thrive in the new era of the digitally empowered, socially connected consumer, companies are shifting their technology priorities. Instead of traditional productivity tools like PCs and standard business software, they’re turning to analytics, big data and social media.

The CMO, increasingly in charge of corporate tech buying decisions, is becoming ever more responsible for their company’s success. That’s a massive challenge, with technology evolving at such as rapid pace and an avalanche of digital data piling up. Little wonder the CMOs who were surveyed realize that they need to turn to CIOs for help in strategic decision making and rolling out this new technology.

The survey highlighted the benefits of teamwork. Around 70% of high-performing companies in the Asia Pacific region report that their marketing and IT departments have strong relationships, 15% higher than the rest of the world.

Through the survey, the marketers also pointed out some of the key strategic areas that they and CIOs need to tackle together to improve their companies’ ability to connect with consumers, create effective campaigns and innovate.

1. Craft a unified vision: Without partnerships between CMOs and CIOs, in the past it was easy for companies to develop haphazard, fragmented approaches to connecting with customers. But with customers increasingly switching between web sites, Facebook groups, mobile apps and phone calls in their interactions with companies, this lack of a unified approach can have a critical impact on business.

CMOs recognize what’s at stake. While only 29% of respondents in the global survey say their companies are effective at integrating the different channels they use to reach out to customers, 71% are convinced it’s crucial going forward. Interestingly, marketers in the Asia Pacific region are already delivering more targeted messaging in the point of sale and face-to-face channels, compared to marketers in other parts of the world.

2. Tackle mobile and social media: There’s a profound disconnect between how important companies think social media and mobile computing are, as well as their expertise and understanding of these innovations. Nearly half of the marketers who were surveyed said that keeping pace with the growth of social media and mobile devices will be their biggest challenge in the next three to five years.

Yet, 65% of the CMOs in a related IBM study said they were not prepared for the growth of mobile and social media. And when it comes to social media, 51% of marketers experimenting with it are not using the data they are collecting to help them make decisions about offers or messaging.

3. Integrate tech infrastructure: At the most basic, marketers lack the foundation they need to start adopting the technology and more sophisticated approaches they need to keep up with today’s digitally savvy consumer.

In IBM’s global State of Marketing study, 48% of marketers surveyed believe that improved technology infrastructure or software will help them do more, and nearly 60% said that the lack of IT alignment and integration are significant barriers to the adoption of technology.

4. Get creative with data: The impact of this lack of integration is undeniable. Observe how marketers are using online visitor data. Around 65% of respondents are doing the basic reporting and analysing of this data. Yet, despite that number, only a third use this data to target one-to-one offers or messages, and less than 20% are using this online data to make one-to-one offers in traditional channels.

Digitally empowered consumers have transformed the marketplace.  So marketers are remaking their profession. They’re developing new skills and relationships, and becoming more crucial than ever to their companies. But they can’t make the transition without the help of CIOs. In today’s tech-driven world, collaboration is the name of the game.

Graham Kittle
Business Analytics & Optimization
IBM Global Business Services

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