How CIOs and CMOs must work together to win

The CMO and CIO had a tense relationship in the past. Each role complained loudly about the other’s lack of respect, understanding, and knowledge.

Two powerful exponential trends (growth rates in data and technology) will have a dramatic impact on enterprise operations and force the marketing and IT departments to collaborate and communicate like never before.

CIOs, CMOs, and their respective teams will need to coordinate strategies, pool resources, and communicate better to survive and take advantage of these trends. This is vital to the future viability and success of any enterprise.

The exponential growth of technology and data

In some cases, the revolution is taking place right in front of our eyes.

Intel pioneer Gordon Moore formulated Moore’s Law. It states that transistors in microprocessors will double every two years. The exponential growth in the processing speed of various machines and devices will enable advancements in fields such as economics, business, technology, biology, and others.

Second, the amount of data companies have to deal with every day is a powerful exponential trend. According to Forrester Research’s report ” Data, Data Everywhere,” the “volume” of data in the world doubles every three years!

Data is literally a problem for companies around the globe. For example, an airline or retailer collects data from a variety of operational systems and stores terabytes, if not petabytes.

For most businesses, data is not conveniently stored in a central location. Instead, it is scattered across spreadsheets, data marts, and storage devices. Marketers are often the main culprits in creating and maintaining separate “pocket databases” that contain customer lists and purchasing histories.

While capturing and storing data relevant to the business is challenging, analyzing it and converting it into useful information is another obstacle. This can be used to improve customer experiences and drive operational efficiency.

The exponential growth in data volume and information technology is unabated, making it hard for enterprises to keep up with these S-curves.

It isn’t easy to comprehend exponential growth. Consider the technological innovations of the last five years, including the explosion of social networking platforms and mobile devices and the deployment of advanced algorithms for solving extremely complex problems. What technological innovations will we see in the next five or twenty years?

Smart executives realize that these exponential trends should not be feared but harnessed. It’s like a match made in heaven.

Competing With An Analytical Infrastructure

Recent books, such as Competing on Analytics, Smart Enough Systems, and Super Crunchers, contain case studies on high-performing corporate and government entities that are leveraging data and information to create tangible business value.

, a global study by Accenture on 450 executives from mid-to-large-sized enterprises found that “high-performance businesses are 50% more likely than the average sample to use analytics in a strategic way and five times more likely than low-performers.”

Although the benefits of being a data-driven organization are well documented in the literature, this transformation was only possible after two fundamental changes within the company.

The role of the CIO was the first major change.

In a Wall Street Journal article entitled ” CIO jobs Morph From Tech Support to Strategy,” published on February 20, 2007, it is explained how, in the past, a CIO was primarily responsible for keeping systems and software running. The article states that “technology is increasingly seen as a crucial tool in corporate strategies and CIOs help to wield them.”

The CIO manages technology to automate business processes, sense and respond to critical events, such as disruptions in the supply chain, and improve customer experience.

Second, marketing professionals realized that they needed to spend less time on tactical activities.

Harvard Business Review articles, such as ” Bringing customers into the Boardroom,” and books, like Strategy by NiStrategyumar, urged Strategyy professionals to align their activities with corporate strategies.

Kumar challenged marketers, for instance, to “capture CEOs’ imaginations” by focusing their efforts on improving customer retention and loyalty, lowering costs, and creating innovative products that meet customer needs.

Though marketers have focused on their customers for years, CIOs now realize that the “customer” they’re targeting isn’t the internal constituencies but the persons and businesses that pay the bills and use the company’s products and services—the same customer that marketers are targeting!

The interests of the CIO and CMO are merging quickly.

Marketers require fresh, accurate data to perform advanced marketing functions, such as segmentation, better campaigns, and offers, or relevant interactions with customers across multiple touchpoints. CIOs also realize that a single, accurate source of data is beneficial to all aspects of the company’s operations. It goes beyond helping marketers reach out to their customers.

The CIO and CMO both have an interest in developing and implementing an analytical infrastructure that can turn data into actionable, useful information. This will enable better decision-making not only in marketing but throughout the entire enterprise.

A typical analytical infrastructure consists of technologies for data integration, data warehousing, business intelligence, and other applications.

The ideal situation would be for frontline workers, who are closest to customers, also to be able to query these systems in order to get timely intelligence. As new technologies develop, they will expand and enhance the capabilities and reach of this analytical infrastructure.

A powerful analytical infrastructure, however, is more than a collection of technologies and applications. Data management, governance, and analysis are just a few of the diverse processes that should be coordinated with mathematicians, business strategists, and people with experience in data administration.

People, processes, and technology must be closely aligned with the corporate strategy in order for the organization to respond quickly and effectively to changing customer needs.

On paper, this data-driven vision, in which marketing and information technology work together to create, implement, maintain, and improve an analytics infrastructure, looks “good.” In reality, however, marketing and IT need to overcome organizational, cultural, and communication barriers before they can partner together.

Overcoming Communication Barriers

Stephen Shaw notes in an article on Marketing Profs titled ” Marketing & IT: Two Solitudes” that although there has been improvement over the years, the communication gap between marketing and IT still exists.

“Each group has a different language, and neither is willing to learn the other’s. IT always complains about vague job descriptions, whereas marketing is annoyed by what they perceive as obfuscation. Marketing is averse to technology unless it helps them do their job. They are often guilty of equivocation. It hides behind a wall of jargon.

In order to avoid working with IT, many marketers turn to third-party agencies, SaaS providers, and other third-party vendors to communicate their needs. While this strategy may teStrategyy meet today’s strategy, it mitigates the challenges that lie ahead.

It may not be feasible for IT to allocate dedicated resources to marketers. However, the CIO and CMO can develop a plan that includes weekly or biweekly meetings to discuss goals, priorities, synergies, and projects.

These meetings will produce notes, project plans, and other documents that can be distributed to both groups to demonstrate their collaboration.

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