Partnering with your CMO works


Partnering with your CMO works

Today’s IT executive needs to take a holistic approach, viewing issues from the combined perspective of other department heads. And one of the most important perspectives is that of the CMO. While this sounds good in theory, how can the two departments foster that balance in practical terms?

According to an Accenture report, improving customer experience is the top business priority for businesses pursuing digital transformation, and both IT and marketing are required to achieve this.

IT brings an innovative vision for what’s technically possible and desirable in the future, and marketing brings insights from customer needs and experiences, and creates a brand these customers can relate to and engage with. In a perfect world, the CMO and CIO would align around the common goal to deliver a seamless and engaging customer experience, but too often tensions get in the way.

Out of the shadows

Marketing today is more tech-intensive than ever, and CMOs want the most up-to-date technology to drive their campaigns. The problem is that they tend to bypass IT in the procurement of software and applications, ignoring official approval processes and potentially exposing organisational data to external sources, much to the CIO’s frustration. In a recent survey, PwC found that between 15 and 30 per cent of IT expenditure is taking place outside the official IT budget. By 2020, Gartner predicts that this figure will grow to 35 per cent.

But it seems that the CIO shares some of the blame for this proliferation of shadow IT. According to analyst firm Frost and Sullivan, shadow IT is not the result of ‘rogue employees looking to rebel’, but rather the IT department’s inability or unwillingness to deliver technology that users actually need.

Frost and Sullivan reported that 49 per cent of line of business employees are more familiar and comfortable with their unapproved application, and are therefore able to do their job more efficiently. Another 38 per cent of employees blamed ‘slow or cumbersome IT approval processes’ for the need to purchase the service elsewhere. And it appears that this rebellion is working in the CMO’s favour. In more and more organisations, marketing is being granted independent technology budgets for investments in automation software, CRM, data and analytics.

Plus side

There’s a silver lining for CIOs willing to embrace this power shift. The fact that marketing has become more digital and data-driven should be welcome news for IT leaders. Rather than be threatened, they should see this as an opportunity to highlight their expertise and the value they bring to the organisation. Without the IT experience, it’s difficult for CMOs to grasp marketing technology's trajectory and potential. As the resident IT experts, CIOs can be the ones to step up and guide marketing in this new ‘martech’ landscape and facilitate the rollout of technology in the marketing function.

It’s up to CIOs whether they position themselves as an enemy or an ally of marketing in the process. Those who choose to assist marketing in their new venture will be able to evolve their roles from being ‘owners’ of technology in the organisation to being ‘brokers’ of services, but this does require the CIO to relinquish some control. As an example, one CMO Magazine article suggests that CIOs can have customer-led project ownership, such as CRM, sitting with the marketing department. It is IT’s responsibility to make sure the platform is scalable, flexible and allows the business to grow, but it's ultimately marketing that is going to be owning it. By meeting marketing’s demands for choice, speed and agility, and giving them ownership of their technology, CIOs will be able to reduce the need for CMOs to circumvent IT in order to perform their work duties.

Get collaborating

As marketing takes more of technology decision making into their own hands, CIOs will become increasingly marginalised if they don't embrace their new role. The key is to view marketing as a client, and focus on delivering the best user experience and providing scalable access to data. And as an added bonus, loosening the reins a little frees up some time for CIOs to focus on more value added initiatives that help their organisations innovate. What more could a CIO want?