Ask any successful CIO and they’ll tell you there’s more to doing a great job than keeping the IT machine running.
When it comes to business performance, IT leaders recognise that nurturing strong relationships – whether that’s with vendors, customers or employees – can be just as important as selecting the right technologies.
However, while CIOs understand that positive relationships matter, they need to make sure they don’t neglect the one that can deliver unexpected value: the relationship with their CMO.
CIOs and CMOs will always have different backgrounds and priorities, but they’ll both want to leverage technology in order to meet corporate objectives.
As a CIO, for example, you might find marketing’s demands for the latest technology to be unrealistic. Conversely, CMOs may be frustrated by IT’s perceived inability to keep up with rapid technological change.
Let’s take a look at why IT and marketing need to come together, and what CIOs and CMOs can do to support collaborative work so that as a CXO team they can deliver consistent customer experiences.
Understanding the changing customer experience landscape
In my last post, I explained how customer demand has shaped the way organisations deliver customer experiences. According to Forrester,[i] customer expectations have also influenced the landscape in which CIOs and CMOs operate.
“Customers expect consistent and high-value in-person and digital experiences. They don’t care if building these experiences is hard or requires a complex, multifunction approach from across your business. They want immediate value and will go elsewhere if you can’t provide it.
It requires common insights so that various functions see the customer, the market dynamic, and their overall response through a similar lens. Strong alignment accelerates success. Poor alignment creates confusion, delays and competitive risk.”
What does this mean? Unlike in the past, CMOs now rely on IT to extend marketing capabilities with technologies that support mobile, online and social interactions. Marketing cannot deliver digital customer experiences without IT support – a collaborative approach is needed.
Why CMOs and CIOs are a CXO marriage
If you want every customer to have a great experience when they interact with your organisation, you need a strong CMO and CIO relationship.
Forrester research shows[ii] that when customer communication breaks down, it’s usually the result of limited technological capabilities. In many cases, these errors would be simple to avoid if marketing and IT were better aligned.
In the Forrester study[iii], 88 per cent of respondents said their ability to manage end-to-end customer communications was low. A further 46 per cent were indifferent or unsatisfied with their ability to manage customer communications across the customer journey. Major shortcomings included:
- Inability to automate processes (35%)
- Insufficient ability to personalise customer communications (35%)
- Lack of tools to send consistent communications from all departments across all channels.
They say two heads are better than one, and in this case, it’s true. Integrating digital technologies such as document and form automation – while ensuring they deliver a consistent experience across touch points – requires a combination of technical know-how (CIO) and an in-depth understanding of customer engagement (CMO).
Fostering a collaborative CIO and CMO relationship
CIOs and CMOs may not always see eye to eye, but there’s good news. Many have warmed to the idea of working together. Almost half (49 per cent) of respondents in CIO.com’s 2016 State of the CIO survey[iv] said their CMO and CIO relationship has become more collaborative in the past three years. 43 per cent said it had remained the same.
Here are three ways to support a positive CIO and CMO relationship in order to deliver consistent customer experiences.
1. Identify common objectives
Although it can seem as though CIOs and CMOs are from different planets, they’re usually working to achieve similar goals. Both, for example, are responsible for understanding behaviour, responding to trends and collecting customer insights.
As Corinne Sklar wrote in The Guardian[v] recently, “Aligning around customer demand and desires will help bring priorities and focus to the CMO and CIO relationship and meet customers’ digital expectation.”
Once alignment is achieved, CIOs and CMOs can work to match services value and technical capability to business challenges. In this case, this involves delivering a more consistent digital customer experience.
2. Recognise each other’s strengths
CIOs and CMOs have much to gain by understanding the value that each party brings to the table. Brand strategist Dr Thomas Oosthuizen says CMOs must understand technology at a strategic level. However, “the finer technical details are entrusted to the technology team led by the CIO.”
On the other hand, Dr Oosthuizen says CIOs need the CMOs’ expertise in customer engagement. This is key to driving the organisation towards a successful digital transformation.
3. Deliver engaging digital experiences across all business units
We all know that today’s customers want to interact with organisations at their convenience. By joining forces, CIOs and CMOs are better equipped to understand customer expectations, identify the right technology solutions, and implement them in a way that digitally transforms the customer experience.
The benefits of doing so go beyond more satisfied customers and increased revenue. When done right, transforming the customer experience also creates business value and enhances critical capabilities.
To learn more about how CIOs and CMOs can improve digital customer experiences, download our complimentary guide to streamlining business processes through digital automation.