It’s a given that the CMO-CIO relationship is set to gain more significance in companies. According to Accenture's 'Cutting Across the CMO-CIO Divide' survey, supporting 'marketing IT' is a top or near-top priority for many Singaporean CIOs.
However, only 64% of Singapore-based CMOs felt it important for marketing teams to be closely aligned with technology teams, as compared to the 85% of CIOs who saw this as a priority. Marketing and IT leaders are investing in different priorities, although many are aimed at the same outcomes. For instance, CMOs are spending heavily on digital marketing and data analytics to build their brands and sales. However, CIOs are focusing on building solutions to improve electronic commerce and multichannel analytics solutions, said the study.
Whilst both are looking at digital technologies, CIOs are looking at them as a means to transforming the entire business whilst CMOs are more focused on figuring out how to use these technologies as new channels to market.
As a result, there is a lack of a unified customer approach since all channels of engagement are not integrated.
The research also showed that both the CMO and CIO do not always view technology as a key driver for customer engagement. In fact, only 17% of CMOs and 26% of CIOs believe so. This shows that technology still very much remains a 'comms push' and a 'bottom-line driver' rather than an opportunity for customer service.
28% and 25% of those surveyed identified the CEO or the head of customer service as the ones who are primarily responsible for improving customers' experiences. Only 8% of CMOs in Singapore felt that this was their responsibility. This was a noticeable difference from a global figure of 23% in another recent Accenture study.
Why do CMOs and CIOs seem to be moving apart at a time when the digital technology they share is becoming more important to business success?
The survey showed that though many CMOs have tried engaging with IT to further their digital strategies, they often become frustrated, mostly with the lack of expertise and critical skillsets within the IT organisation.
Some also mentioned that their internal technology development processes are too slow to keep pace with the fast-changing nature of digital marketing. Hence to combat that, they have defied IT's wishes and gone ahead to purchase new digital capabilities 'as a service' from third-party providers.
From the CIO's viewpoint, the new solutions being sought by marketing are often complex and require extensive integration at both application and data level.
Bridging the gap
The study lists the following points for a customer-focused approach:
- Set joint objectives that recognize the importance of the customer experience as a competitive advantage to their company
- Compile and use existing customer data points and customer tools like personas and user journeys to align on key segments
- Involve the CEO and others in the boardroom to endorse and contribute to these segment choices and objectives. Brainstorm how they might be applied to new and existing technology, data, content and optimization initiatives
- Discuss how the company as a whole can support and enhance the vision of a more customer-focused organization
Investing in developing a strong, effective customer experience will allow companies to reap the benefits of better operation effectiveness and customer satisfaction. More importantly, improving collaboration between business functions is a pay-off that can be extended far deeper than just customer experience but into initiatives that can only start when marketing and IT divisions align and take joint responsibility.