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Bridging the gap between CMOs and CIOs

Bridging the gap between CMOs and CIOs John Kennedy

It's time to break down the walls between CMOs and CIOs. That's the message that emerges loud and clear from IBM's recent survey of marketing executives, which surveyed more than 350 marketing executives across multiple industries and geographies.  

In the past, CMOs and CIOs operated in separate silos and never needed each other much. But with today's digitally empowered consumer firmly in the driver's seat with every Facebook update, YouTube upload, and mobile app download they make, marketers and their technology counterparts need each other more than ever. They need to come together and form a C-suite power team that blends the science of technology with the art of marketing.

In fact, 60 percent of the marketers interviewed said that their biggest obstacle to connecting with consumers is that missing partnership with CIOs.

It all comes down to customer data and how it's transforming marketing. As consumers share more data through their digital footprint that spreads through "liking," recommending, and sharing, people are expecting new levels of personalization and service. Likewise, the explosion of data gives marketers an understanding of the consumer as an individual in a way that they only dreamed of before.

Mastering all this data is changing what it means to be a marketer. And that's altering the skills marketers need, the role they play, and the partners they need. Armed with data, CMOs can shape everything from how brands interact with customers to the products and services they offer to the structure of the company itself.  

But to do that, CMOs need to cultivate analytics, big data, and social media expertise. They need to partner with their CIOs to create a shared agenda. The survey revealed that close to 50 percent of marketers say that improved technology infrastructure or software will empower them to do more. That is reinforced by Gartner's forecast that the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017.  

There are CMOs and CIOs who already see the benefits. Some 51 percent of the high performing companies in our survey had tight relationships between marketing and IT -- 10 percent higher than the other companies surveyed.

The survey also shows how the traditional walls separating CIOs and CMOs create disconnects that impact a company's marketing strategies, pace of innovation, and ability to reach out to customers.

Take mobile for instance. Around 34 percent of marketers said that during the next year, they plan to deliver mobile advertising. That's the highest rate of adoption of a new marketing tactic we've seen since we started conducting the survey five years ago. Some 41 percent of marketers also told us that keeping pace with the growth of social media and mobile devices will be their biggest challenge during the next three to five years.

But then consider the following technology disconnect: Sixty-five percent of CMOs in a related IBM study said they were underprepared for the growth of mobile and social media.

And 51 percent of the marketers experimenting with social media simply aren't using the data they're collecting when it comes to making decisions about their offers or messaging.

Or let's look at integration of all the channels companies use to reach out to customers -- the websites, social networks, and mobile apps. Some 71 percent of marketers say integration across these channels is important, but only 29 percent say they're effective at it. Why? Fifty-nine percent say they think their existing systems are too disparate to integrate.

It's these kinds of barriers that partnerships between CIOs and CMOs can overcome. Because while marketers are obsessing about translating the mountains of new consumer data into valuable information, the technologists are best positioned to help them connect that data across their companies and then improve customer experiences by integrating the various IT systems that reside within their organizations.

John Kennedy is vice president, corporate marketing at IBM.

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"Two separate groups find common ground" image via Shutterstock.

John Kennedy is Vice President, Corporate Marketing, IBM, where he is responsible for IBM’s Brand development and marketing program execution on a global basis.  This includes responsibility for leading IBM’s “Smarter...

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Commenter: Brian Duke

2012, September 06

"The survey revealed that close to 50 percent of marketers say that improved technology infrastructure or software will empower them to do more." Herein lies the problem. Advertisers are too afraid of the problem and fall back to licensing a "tool" because it's easier and gives them a simpler answer. Albeit an incorrect one. SaaS simply does not work for multi-channel marketing analytics. You need a service organization with a serious resume to objectively measure and apply your data. Stop throwing ad-tech at the problem. You're just spinning your wheels.