Bridging The Gap Between the CIO-CMO Relationship

ServionHistorically, the CIO-CMO relationship may not be the most harmonious, most recently caused by tensions due to predictions that the CMO might potentially be spending more on IT than the CIO, and that the CIO would soon be reporting to the CMO. Traditionally, CMOs have the role of a brand custodian, while CIOs are in charge of Information Technology to drive enterprise goals.

The digitization of everything is disrupting marketing and transforming the way orgnizations function. In the process of adapting to this change, the roles of C-suite executives have evolved.The Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA) digital market is expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent and is expected to be worth $35 billion by 2015. It is also estimated that were the pace of digitization in the MENA region to accelerate, it would add a cumulative $820 billion to regional GDP and create an extra 4.4 million jobs by 2020.[1]

In the age of the customer, brands no longer lead discussions. Customers do. Access to information, including the customer experience (CE), is now controlled by the customer. The customer experience, defined as the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company, is significantly impacted by how effective the union is between the two.

Partnership as Priority

Companies in the Middle East have always known the importance of sincere customer experience and the resultant loyalty that ensues. After all, customers buy more than products, they buy an experience. In fact, according to Gartner, 89 percent of companies are planning to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016.[2]

With the CEO looking for a customer experience champion, both the CMO and CIO should come on board together as crucial strategic partners.

Last year nearly half of CMOs and CIOs agree that technology is too siloed to support the complexity of cross-channel experiences, despite recognizing the importance of developing consistent and multi-channel experiences.[3] Working together to have a single view of the customer should be the shared goal and the breaking down of silos and cross-departmental collaboration has to begin now.

Designing the Customer Experience Together

With the large amount of customer data the CMO has, the CIO has the right skills and technology to make sense of the company’s big data and distil the necessary information for a tailored customer experience, translating customer interactions to actionable insight.

To the customer – the moment of truth is service delivery at the point of interaction – where they find out if the brand is able to meet its brand promise and expectation. Delivering excellent customer experience has become the holy grail of brand building and marketing in this social era.

The secret to tailor making customer experience lies on the basis of a brand’s promise to its consumers. Thereafter comes the technology, the ability to interface the CIM platform with back-end CRM and so on.

The CIO and CMO need to work together to develop an architecture which gives access to insight in real time. Using the data and insights, personalized, relevant experiences can be created for customers across all touch points with a perfectly aligned contact management strategy.

As a first step, CIOs and CMOs need to closely align on which marketing IT priorities make the biggest impact. Then, CMOs and CIOs should meet regularly to build a level of trust with each other. This allows them to lead by example to establish a culture for the entire organization that they are openly communicating and supporting each other’s priorities. Usually, bringing in a referee or third party consultant can also help to overcome obstacles. Having someone who understands both sides of the fence, such as a marketing technologist, can help facilitate communication between the two departments

At the end of the day, both parties have to be bilingual, learn each other’s ways of working, culture, and language. Metrics and KPI’s should be established, with each party bringing their best to the table to achieve the shared vision of delivering superior customer experiences. Only as true strategic partners can this collaboration be effective in harnessing opportunities, winning and retaining customers in the digital age across all customer experiences and lead to overall business success.




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