CMO - CIO Disconnect, customer experience, cxm

From the Accenture report, The CMO-CIO Disconnect

Once upon a time, chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) lived in different worlds. Now, they need to be best buddies. A new report from Accenture Interactive looks at how the two roles, still struggling over different viewpoints on almost everything, can best live together. 

The report, The CMO-CIO Disconnect: Bridging the Gap to Seize the Digital Opportunity, said marketing is so involved in technology these days that, by 2017, CMOs are actually expected to spend more money on information technology and analytics than CIOs. Yet, many CMOs see digital technology as their weakest capability.

A Compendium of Disconnects

The report is a compendium of disconnects between the two roles. For instance, it found that nearly 80 percent of CIOs believe there is a greater need for alignment with their CMO, but just over half of the CMOs feel the same way.

Sixty-one percent of CIOs believe their companies are ready for a digital future, while only 49 percent of CMOs feel the same way. CMOs are mostly concerned about insufficient funding for digital marketing channels, while CIOs are mostly concerned about solution complexity and integration.

CMOs and CIOs have so many different points of view, it’s a wonder companies actually get things done. CMOs, for instance, expect quicker turnaround, higher-quality and a greater deal of flexibility in responding to market conditions then do CIOs.

For their part, nearly half of CIOs feel that marketing uses technologies without consideration for the company’s standards. The crux of the issue, the report points out, is a fundamental disagreement between "who operates a technology to drive outcomes, who controls the design of experiences."

Opposite Sides of the Fence

This picture of so many different views of the same circumstance makes Rashomon seem like a news report. Nearly half of CIOs say that marketing makes promises without IT's agreement -- a situation that 40 percent of marketers agree with, thus verifying the lack of agreement. And 36 percent of CMOs say IT does not deliver as expected, which 46 percent of CIOs say is because marketing does not provide adequate business requirements.

Additionally, Accenture said that most CMOs see the IT organization as an execution and delivery arm, instead of a strategic partner. While the report suggests a strategic partnership, there is fundamental disagreement about what that strategy should be. For instance, marketers are most interested in leads and sales, while CIOs are more interested in measuring results that can be used to optimize campaigns. There were also major differences in assessing the priorities of marketing platforms, social media and campaign management.

Learning Opportunities

While internal collaboration between IT and marketing would often benefit a company, marketing now has an array of options to avoid IT altogether by buying technology capabilities on the outside, especially as cloud services become more capable, less expensive and more acceptable. External vendors give marketers the freedom, flexibility and fast turnarounds that they cannot always get from IT.

Optimistic Notes

But there a few optimistic notes sounded in the report. For instance, about 45 percent ofCMOs and CIOs report that their relationships with each other have improved over the past year.

Additionally, while marketing might be able to contract many services to external vendors, there is one area in which it will continue to need substantial support from the company IT department even if it does use outsiders -- integrating and utilizing a company’s Big Data.

Tapping into the streams of data generated by a company's interaction with customers and business processes will, in many cases, need IT’s involvement. The report found that access to customer insight and intelligence, which requires analysis of Big Data, is the number one driver for marketing departments aligning and interacting with IT.

To move ahead in developing co-existence if not collaboration, the report recommends five "imperatives" for building trust and improving alignment. These are:

  1. The CMO should be identified as the chief experience officer, driving consumer-centric actions and defining the customer experience.
  2. IT should be accepted as a strategic partner, not just a platform provider, involving IT as early in the process as possible.
  3. Key business levers for marketing and IT integration should be agreed upon, such as access to customer data versus privacy and security.
  4. The skill mix should be revised so that both organizations have more marketing and technology expertise -- or “blended skills,” as one IT vice president says.
  5. Trust should be developed by, of all things, trusting. This involves a variety of communication channels, joint occasions and cross-departmental teams.

As with other reports that recommend dismantling departmental silos in an age when digital customers can easily take their business elsewhere, this report points to the pressing need for corporate officers, especially the heads of the marketing and IT departments, to put aside traditional interests and jointly figure out one simple question: what does the customer want?