The top firms for customer experience (CX) showed cohesive leadership between chief marketing officers (CMO) and chief information officers (CIO), according to market research company Forrester. This comes as technology underpins every element of modern business today, and companies that wish to grow and remain competitive have come to realise that it is the customer technology choice that defines how companies should serve them.
In a webinar at Summit Asia Pacific 2020, Sam Higgins, principal analyst at Forrester said: "We have shifted forever from a world of commodity products that we would push onto our customers to world where customers determine their journey and expect experiential solutions." He added that over the past 10 years, new roles in the C-suite have been formed. In the past, there was a small group of executives such as chief operating officers and chief financial officers who control centralised technology of the company. Now we see the rise of new roles such as CMOs, CCOs, and CIOs.
According to Forrester's research, when it comes to using technology to enhance CX, strategy and execution land at the feet of various executives, who are each responsible for one part of technology. With multiple leaders, frictions will arise in terms of conflicting parties and responsibilities. Thus there is a need for various executives to be aligned in the technology goals of the company.
Higgins revealed that CMOs from top-performing CX companies have certain characteristics. Firstly, they do not only drive customer obsession in marketing, but also make sure technology forms part of the company's CX ROI. Furthermore, they identify the CIO as a strategic business partner and define shared business goals with IT professionals in the company that is centered on customer success.
In doing so, these CMOs promote shared governance within the company. They recognise the need to bring together decision makers with leaders in technology and jointly make decisions about what will be funded or permitted in terms of different CX solutions. Additionally, they will further integrate technology into CS by ensuring there are IT professionals included in the team along with marketing and martech professionals when running martech projects.
CMOs from top-performing companies also empower cross-function teams.
They contribute resources to IT in support of marketing technology initiatives. Higgins also added that some CMOs even go as far as to demand co-location of marketing and technology teams to work together and increase informal collaboration. When hiring new marketers, CMOs in top-performing CS companies also jointly interview with the CIO to look for marketers with hybrid skill sets.
For CMOs see the value of such marketing and technology integration to enhance CX, they are willing to sacrifice speed for integration. They prioritise establishing an integration system so that the company will be able to have a more complete view of its consumers. According to Higgins, an integrated system means having a single view of the customer, making sure that the customer insights are more accurate and valuable. Adopting this method may not allow the company to make leaps in CX, but it will enable a better and more complete view of that its customer data.
The CMO-CIO partnership is not a new concept. In 2019, Keith Johnston, VP, group director of Forrester said in a blog post that it is evident the relationship between CMO and CIO should thrive in a world imposed with such demand for innovation. "Every business needs technology. Every product needs a brand. Every generation advances in its appetite for tech. It is not even conscionable that you can create a product, build a brand, deliver and service experience, or maintain a relationship with your customer without well-crafted communications and sophisticated technology infrastructure," he added.
According to Johnston, CMOs should work closely with their CIO counterparts to avoid creating any shadow IT, while CIOs should work to serve both employee and customer needs to connect with the business deliberately. Goal alignment, contemporary governance, and multidisciplinary technical and creative talent are critical success factors when it comes to a CMO-CIO collaboration. Additionally, decisions made should always rest on what the customer needs, and not the roles of individuals. Johnston also said that is it essential for CMOs and CIOs to establish a personal relationship. "Trust is the ingredient to any success," he said, stressing on the need to establish empathy and trust between the two leaders.
Similarly in a report by Adobe, the CMO-CIO relationship is highlighted as integral. While CMOs need to make sense and create value from the data they collected, they must realise that it is the CIO who can help them manage and use that data effectively. Meanwhile, CIOs must realise that a deeper understanding of customers- their behaviour, preferences, habits- is pivotal in creating customer-centric experiences and driving digital transformation. This can be provided with the help of CMOs. The onus is not on either marketing or IT to create a great CX experience. Both need to work together to revolutionise CX, the report said, adding that a single platform that facilitates data integration and encourages inter-departmental collaboration creates a stable middle ground for companies.