by Nigel Fenwick, Luca S. Paderni

CIOs must merge IT with marketing to win in the digital decade

Jan 23, 20124 mins
IT Strategy

In the future, only companies that understand and anticipate their customers’ needs and can consistently deliver unique, tailored customer experiences will be able to attract and retain loyal customers.

This requires not just having the knowledge about the customer but also the processes and the systems that create unique customer insights and deliver compelling interactions across the customer life cycle.

To achieve this, Forrester believes that CIOs must form a strong partnership with CMOs, going beyond collaboration to co-create new organizations and processes, where both teams share ownership of goals and business outcomes.

Forrester and Forbes Insights fielded a global survey to 300 CMOs and CIOs to determine their readiness to work together.

We found that relatively few companies are well-positioned to develop strong IT and marketing partnerships and that marketing professionals are less optimistic than their IT counterparts.

As independent teams, IT and marketing may well demonstrate high maturity.

But past experiences and misperceptions about each other persist, so IT and marketing may struggle to develop a successful partnership.

Mastering the customer data flow is critical to future success.

To help organizations assess its readiness to build a stronger partnership between IT and Marketing, Forrester created a model that looks at three critical dimensions: people, process, and technology (see Figure: A sample readiness assessment).

– People:Make your IT and Marketing teams ready to merge skills.

The majority of survey respondents reported little progress toward merging IT and marketing skills. Only a third of IT leaders are making progress in this direction, while only 10 per cent of marketing leaders are aware of any progress.

This suggests CIOs need to bring marketing expertise in from outside of IT or develop these skills in existing staff. – Process: Develop processes to increase agility. While more than 45 per cent of IT leaders are making progress toward adapting their IT processes to deliver more speed and flexibility to marketing, only 32 per cent of marketing leaders recognize any progress being made.

This suggests that even speeded up, IT may still lack the agility needed for marketing.

Speed to customer impact. How quickly the customer data flow results in changes to the customer experience and perception of value is a critical marketing metric. – Technology: Master the customer data flow across the company.

Only 22 per cent of marketing leaders, and a third of IT leaders, believe their organizations have a single view of customer data flow strategy, according to the survey.

CMOs must work with CIOs to assess the ability of the organization to capture the right customer data, analyze the data in real time, distribute the resulting insights so as to create a compelling customer experience across all customer touchpoints, and increase value throughout the customer life cycle.

Without the right technologies in place, it is impossible for the teams to effectively master the customer data flow, no matter how skilled the people or effective the process.

People and process capabilities come before technology Although the readiness model identifies the gaps, companies should focus addressing people, process, and technology gaps, in that order if they want to achieve a successful partnership between CIOs and CMOs.

The people change isn’t just about hiring a few new people, but about a fundamental shift in how IT and marketing work together, creating joint teams with shared accountability.

IT needs to create a dedicated team that works with the marketing team on customer projects. IT people with marketing experience bring new skills and new ways of communicating to the IT team. They understand the language of marketing and the customer.

Both IT and marketing must think about the business processes in place that affect the customer and provide agility.

Introduce formal or informal Agile processes to speed up IT’s ability to deliver value to marketing.

Marketing teams also need to adopt the principles of Agile, applying them to marketing processes.

Move away from one-size-fits-all governance. Rethink the technology governance process to develop more flexible rules around project governance.

The winning organizations in coming years will be those companies that understand how to use technology to increase the value each customer perceives through the consumption of a particular product or service.

Nigel Fenwick and Luca Paderni are principal analysts at Forrester Research where they serve CIOs and CMOs respectively.

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