by Edward Qualtrough

Channel 4 keeping data ownership away from CIO and CMO

Sep 15, 20143 mins
IT LeadershipIT StrategyMedia and Entertainment Industry

Marketing and technology departments are at loggerheads as the CMO has accrued more and more power along with increasing chunks of the CIO’s budget.

Thus runs the modern trend regularly reported in the enterprise technology press regarding data ownership and tech spending. Naturally, however, the reality is far different as senior players from Waitrose, Channel 4 and explained during a discussion on The merging roles of the CMO, CIO and Omnichannel Director at Europe’s Customer Festival.

Channel 4’s Head of Data Planning and Analytics, Sanjeevan Bala, said that for the broadcaster ‘who owns the data’ was not a battle between the marketing and technology functions at all.

“We have a separate role that reports into the CEO David Abraham, not the CIO or the CMO,” he said. “It’s a centralised capability separate from marketing and technology.”

Bala said that the Audience Technology and Insight team (ATI) is headed up by director Gill Whitehead, “who works closely with our CMO Dan Brooke, our Chief Creative Officer and CIO Kevin Gallagher.

“The team is nearly 50 strong combining a mix of skills including data scientists, researchers, planners, viewer relationships and insight professionals.”

Discussing the C-suite politics with Waitrose Head of Omnichannel Tony Rivenell, Bala said that rather than seeing the roles of CMO and CIO merging, they are both increasingly playing the role of integrating digital touchpoints, bringing down barriers and promoting horizontal collaboration across the organisation.

This kind of setup is certainly not atypical, according to Product Marketing Director at Tibco Leandro Perez, as the software and middleware company explained its new Engage customer engagement SaaS tool and relationship with outdoor fashion brand The North Face.

“We find a few roles are gaining traction in our sales cycle, namely: VP/director of marketing analytics, VP/director of CRM, VP/director of digital marketing, VP/director of loyalty marketing, and VP/director of eCommerce.

“And there are different waves on the horizon. I have spoken to many people performing marketing activities related to loyalty, retention, or customer acquisition that reported to CIOs or senior IT staff; and on the flip side more technology-savvy analytics personnel who are part of the marketing team.

“Both have their own challenges as their management only understands half of what they do and more importantly lack understanding of the tools required to be successful.”

As the CIO role has evolved to be a more business and strategy focused position concerned with outcomes rather than the technology itself, exactly the same has happened in marketing departments where the focus of the CMO is on the brand, strategy, voice and message rather than the day-to-day marketing tools.

These CMOs spending big on technology perhaps aren’t Chief Marketing Officers at all, but ‘marketing managers’ in the same way that the IT manager – performing the laudable yet sometimes underappreciated task of ensuring systems work and organisations run smoothly – performs a very different function to that of the CIO.

This view was hinted at by Bala as he explained Channel 4’s ATI team.

“Marketing and the CMO really focus more on the brand, working with the technology teams to help develop multiplatform products,” he said.