Bridging the CMO and CIO Gap with Customer Centricity

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Focusing on customer centricity could be the glue that finally brings chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) together, according to recent studies. Marketing and IT functions are often on opposing sides in a company, with CIOs struggling to meet the demands of CMOs who are looking for quick access to information.
Although marketing and IT departments still differ on the importance of collaboration and interaction, the gap is closing fast, reports Accenture. This year, in a survey of more than 1,100 marketing and IT executives, 83 percent of IT executives say they need to align and interact with marketing.

Only 69 percent of their marketing counterparts feel the same way, but the 14-point difference is significantly smaller than the previous year's 21-point gap (when the agreement was 77 percent and 56 percent, respectively).

"Historically, there has been a huge disconnect between CMOs and CIOs, but what will bring them together is rallying around the customer and putting customer centric thinking at the core of the business," says Glen Hartman, global managing director of Digital Transformation for Accenture Interactive.

Reverse engineering ideas around customer outcomes instead of holding on to siloed objectives is one way CIOs and CMOs can collaborate. The two departments, for example, can think of strategies for providing customers with an omnichannel experience, Hartman adds.

Forrester Research analyst Sharyn Leaver agrees that making customer centricity a priority could foster greater collaboration between CMOs and CIOs. From the CIO's perspective, it is important to understand which technologies best support "customer-obsessed" competitive advantages and communicate that using the customer life cycle, she says.

"The CIO should provide support for every phase of the customer life cycle," Leaver notes. "It's about innovating across the entire cycle."

In addition, the CMO should communicate with the CIO on new technologies or platforms that he or she wants to implement. A common problem is the marketing department "adopting technologies without thinking about the connections that have to happen," Leaver says.

"Many times out-of-the-box solutions promise the speed that marketers are looking for but are very difficult for IT to integrate into a company's infrastructure. You can't buy a customer experience off the shelf. It has to be built and that typically means working with IT."

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