Perils of communication between the CMO and CIO

The advent of digitisation has revolutionised the way marketing teams function and transformed the way organisations manage their priorities.

Asia alone makes up almost 45% of the world’s Internet users, growing at a compounded rate of 20% annually. The sheer number of people in the region presents exciting growth opportunities for digital commerce.

The marketing buzzword “Customer Experience” (CE) has become the new battleground. According to Gartner, 89% of companies are planning to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016. Delivering excellent customer experience has become the holy grail of building brand loyalty in the age of the customer. Brands no longer lead discussions. Customers do.

Customer experience, defined as the sum of all interactions a customer has with a brand, is significantly impacted by how effective the union is between the chief marketing officer (CMO) and the chief information officer (CIO).

Traditionally, CMOs have the role of a brand custodian, while CIOs are in charge of information technology to drive enterprise goals. The CIO-CMO relationship may not be the most harmonious, with seemingly overlapping goals and competition for budget.

(Read also: Marketers, here’s why your CIOs are bypassing you)

Last year, nearly half of CMOs and CIOs agreed that technology is too siloed to support the complexity of cross-channel experiences, despite recognising the importance of developing consistent and multi-channel experiences. Working together to have a single view of the customer should be the shared goal and the breaking down of silos and cross-departmental collaboration has to begin now.

Bridging the gap

In the Asia Pacific region, nearly two in five companies do not have a comprehensive customer experience management (CEM) programme in place. Thailand (77%) and the Philippines (67%) boast the highest prevalence of comprehensive CEM programmes, but they are scarcest in Singapore (48%) and Japan (42%).

To the customer – the moment of truth lies in service delivery at the point of interaction – where they find out if the brand is able to meet its brand promise and expectations. The key to enhancing customer experience is when brands live up to their promises to consumers. Thereafter comes the technology and the ability to interface the CIM platform with back-end CRM.

(Read also: Time for CIOs and CMOs to become friends

Lessons in making CMO-CIO relationship work)

Both the CIO and CMO need to learn each other’s language and agree on marketing and IT goals to work towards. For starters, the CIO can leverage on the large amount of customer data collected by the CMO and translate the wave of customer interactions into actionable insights. With this implemented in real time, accurate and personalised experiences can be crafted for customers across multiple touch points.

As a next step, CMOs and CIOs should meet regularly to build a level of trust with each other. This allows them to lead by example to establish a culture for the entire organization that they are openly communicating and supporting each other’s priorities. Usually, bringing in a neutral or third party consultant can also help to overcome obstacles. Having someone who understands both sides of the fence, such as a marketing technologist, can also help facilitate communication between the two departments.

At the end of the day, both parties have to be bilingual, learn each others ways of working, culture, and language. Metrics and KPI’s should be established, with each party bringing their best to the table to achieve the shared vision of delivering superior customer experiences. Only as true strategic partners can this collaboration be effective in harnessing opportunities while winning and retaining customers in the digital age.

The writer of the article is Abhijit Banerjee, vice president & region head, Asia Pacific from Servion Global Solutions. 

(Photo courtesy: Accenture)


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