Fashion styles come and go, car models get outdated, phones transform into computers. The bottom line: things change over time. This old truism applies to what’s happening in the executive suite today. The heightened focus on connecting with customers digitally is bringing marketing and tech together, requiring new skills and setting new expectations on both sides. While they are not likely to become the same job, the CMO and CIO have to work more closely than ever to deliver the revenue growth and increased margins that the CEO expects in a digital-first world.
For marketers to do their job well, they need to be able to understand mobile and social technologies, and how they’re used by relevant audiences. Blake Cahill, head of global digital marketing at Phillips, stated that; “Part of the marketing skill set now is being able to use good judgment when it comes to applying technology to achieve marketing results.” So far, marketers aren’t doing a great job convincing their CEOs. A recent Accenture study found that only one percent of surveyed C-suite executives believe CMOs are responsible for digital innovation in their organisation.
CIOs need to up their game as well and gain a greater understanding of the tools that marketing departments need to use, or else risk becoming obsolete. CIOs need to focus more on business strategy and less on operational maintenance. The mindset shift needed is an entrepreneurial one, to become a leader who can integrate technology with strategy to enhance the customer experience and provide business benefits.
While the push for increased collaboration between the CIO and CMO roles has gained traction and come a long way, challenges still exist. A recent Accenture study revealed that; “45% of CIOs report that they put marketing IT near or at the top of their priorities, whereas 54% of CMOs think marketing IT is placed at the bottom of the CIO’s priority list.” While marketing is focused on extracting data and turning it into relevant customer experiences, IT is concerned with customer privacy and security and brand protection. Often times, these goals conflict with each other.
Additionally, as expectations rise and the number of vendors to manage increases across many organisations, departments tend to communicate less with one another. CMOs and CIOs often don’t work together when selecting vendors, resulting in misalignment on how technology should support and enable marketing performance. This is one of the reasons why the average top retail site in the US is only aware of 20% of the 70 distinct companies that each have access to a brand’s customer data.
So who should take charge of leading this digital transformation we’ve found ourselves in? We’ve seen hybrid roles emerge with the rise of positions like the Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT) and Chief Digital Officer (CDO). The CMT can be the one to oversee these vendors and evaluate their effectiveness. In fact, over 81% of big companies now have a CMT in place, and CDOs are predicted to be in 25% of organisations by 2015. But who the CMT reports to, and how they interact with the CMO and CIO, is still evolving.
Ultimately, the first step towards a digital transformation is making it all about the customer. For this to happen, marketing and tech need greater collaboration. When cross-department communication and alignment on areas like performance goals and vendor management exist, the potential to grow a business is limitless. While things certainly do change over time, it seems safe to say that the paradigm that’s sweeping the C-suite will be something more enduring than a fashion style or car model.