Business partners shaking hands

Chief Marketing Officer, meet the Chief Information Officer. You two are going to have to learn to work together — otherwise your company will suffer, it may even go out of business and both of you will almost surely lose your jobs.

In yesterday’s world, that statement might have seemed outrageous. But we’re living in the age of social, mobile and big data, where the customer and the customer’s experience rules. And this era will be won not by the company that crafts the most seductive messages or creates the best products, but by the one that gets the right information, in front of the right consumer, at the exact moment that person is ready to pull the trigger and buy.

That, my friends, is a data game. It takes two (teams of) people with very different skill sets to make it happen. The companies who rule the future will have to leverage the best of what IT and marketing each has to offer. Welcome to the world of big data driven marketing.

The Realities

Consider that you can get 400 pieces of data from a single 140 character Tweet — information about gender, location, sentiment and even content that may have been shared in a URL, according to Patrick Morrissey, marketing VP at DataSift.

The Guardian reports social media marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk was able to ask DataSift to find out which of his 1,015,569 twitter followers was most likely to buy his new book Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook, and that by asking questions like who has previously reviewed Vaynerchuk’s books, who has quoted his books, who has previously purchased his books and so on, they could stack-rank Twitter followers according to their propensities to buy.

Consider too, that so much big data (clickstream data, server log data, social media data, machine data, geolocation data and unstructured data trapped in PDF files, videos, and other types content files) can be gathered about you, your surroundings, your activities and interactions, that marketers are actually toning their messaging down, said Jim Walker, director of product marketing at Hortonworks.

Take a look at Gartner’s Digital Marketing Transit Map, below. It’s a complicated web, and if the enterprise is going to win, then the CIO and CMO will have to work their way through it and to the customer, hand in hand. It is not an option.


"The CMO and CIO have no choice. They must connect and collaborate at an individual level, while aligning their respective organizations otherwise both functions face irrelevance,” said Lisa Arthur, CMO at Teradata Applications.

How to Get Started?

Now, of course, we’re not going to issue a mandate without providing some bait or giving you a way to get started.

Learning Opportunities

The bait is pretty readily available. Consider that, aside from the fact that you’ll get to keep your job, you and your CIO/CMO counterpart might also see promotions and/or a hefty bonus. A recent global survey of marketing executives, conducted by Teradata, reveals those who are using data driven marketing saw an 82 percent increase in market share. That’s a number you can take to your CEO and to your review. (And if you don’t get the pile of cash you deserve, it will certainly catch someone’s eye when they read your resume.)

So, CIO and CMO, it’s in your own self-interest, that you to step outside of your office, walk across the building and start a conversation about how you and your counterpart are going to bring data driven marketing into your company.

But, mind you, you don’t need to use the word “data” or the word “marketing” to begin the conversation and risk getting into a tussle over what’s more important and who owns what.

Instead, talk about the customer. It’s like talking about the “children”; a word that calls us to act better than we would otherwise.

How to Work Together

Darryl McDonald, president of Teradata Applications, gives a pretty mean presentation about how Marketing and IT can work together in this light. We’ve used some of his ideas to provide a place from which to start:

  1. Look at your business processes. Imagine them with the customer at the center of everything you do. Literally. Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes.
  2. Look at what it’s like to do business with your company. Ask: is it easy? Is it satisfying? Learn the customer’s journey first-hand.(McDonald tells the story of an airline client who won’t let his executives fly first class because he want his managers to know how life looks from the middle seat in economy.)
  3. Reverse engineer your marketing from the customer’s point of view. “Make it Outside-In,” says McDonald. Put the customers’ needs and wants ahead of the company’s.
  4. Create a single view of your customer. Identify where customer data lies, anywhere and everywhere across the business.
  5. Tear down those silos.
  6. Integrate that data to create a single view of all interactions customers have with your brand. (Forrester says that only 7 percent of Marketing & IT leaders said that their companies had a single view of the customer, get this right and you’re instantly ahead of your peers.
  7. Build a vision for having a 1:1 relationship with your customers at scale.
  8. Team with your counterpart to claim your place in a world where data delivers what people want and need NOW.

So CMO and CIO, can we call you a team yet? If not, you have two choices, get up and go meet your counterpart or stay in your office and start packing up your desk.

Title image by Yuralatis Albert (Shutterstock).