Marketing and IT, in the name of CX, why can't you just get along?

In recent months there’s been a lot of commentary about how much technology CMOs will be purchasing in the coming years, which could make marketing a bigger IT department than, um, the IT department.

Much of this marketing tech euphoria is fueled by Gartner’s prediction that by 2017, CMOs would outspend CIOs on technology. And amplified by vendors and tech consultants selling to marketing, in part because CIOs are viewed as a roadblock to closing deals. You know, because they ask pesky questions like, “How will this new solution fit into our complex IT ecosystem?”

OK, so what? If Gartner’s prediction comes true (and 80% of them don’t), then I predict that CMOs will have one big hot mess on their hands. Because most are not prepared to approach technology platforms and applications with the long-term perspective.

It’s also true that CIOs are falling short of delivering what marketing needs. One prime example is CRM, which was sold (by software vendors like Siebel) and bought (by CIOs) as a platform to unify marketing, sales and service. Yet over the past 10 years we’ve seen marketing goes it own way, buying all types of disconnected solutions to manage marketing data, campaigns, websites, analytics and much more.

The state of marketing/IT collaboration: Not good

This can’t end well. And that’s why I think Forrester’s new report is a must-read for tech-happy CMOs, and a wake-up call for CIOs who think they are in control of corporate IT.

In The CMO And CIO Must Accelerate On Their Path To Better Collaboration, analyst Sheryl Pattek argues that CMOs and CIOs should work more collaboratively. Unfortunately, “more often than not, CIOs and CMOs struggle to achieve common goals in this new digital landscape.”

A survey of marketing and IT leaders conducted jointly with Forbes found that collaboration is more talk than action, thus far. Here’s one chart that illustrates some progress but lots more work to be done.

Since the last study in 2011, there’s been some improvement in the percentage of marketing and IT agreeing that, “Marketing and IT have shared ownership/responsibility for marketing technology projects.” But notice that 70% of IT leaders agree vs. 51% of marketing leaders. Clearly some CIOs have a more positive view of the relationship than their marketing peers.

Similarly, the study found that:

  • marketing needs to “more fully communicate its priorities to IT”
  • IT lacks marketing expertise and knowledge
  • both sides lack dedicated marketing tech leadership

Collaborate around a goal: Customer Experience

Collaboration without a goal is meaningless, because the term literally means working together to accomplish something. In my view, that “something” should be a great customer experience.

And let’s be clear, to deliver a joined-up customer experience, it’s not just about marketing. CMOs may claim they are “all in” on CX, but dig deeper and I’ll bet you’ll find CX as a cover for doing more of the same old inside-out stuff from the CRM era. Running campaigns, generating leads, and so on.

The complete CX includes more than brand building and acquisition, of course. Interactions with sales and service representatives must be thoughtfully integrated (not necessarily on one platform) to make sure the complete CX is consistent, effortless, and (let’s dream, shall we) even enjoyable on the customer’s journey.

CMOs need CIOs more than they think they do. Not only to help with technology acquisition and management, but to assist in integration with other business groups that contribute to the customer experience. CIOs need to show they can be more nimble and responsive, because their customers (marketing, in this case) won’t wait years for the perfect platform.

I say it’s time to stop the bragging contest about who is buying the most technology. Customers don’t care. Instead, focus on who is delivering the best end-to-end customer experience. To accomplish that, marketing and IT leaders need to collaborate, not compete.

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