by Tom Kaneshige

CMOs Paralyzed by Paradigm Shift (and CIOs Aren’t Helping)

Oct 21, 20145 mins
CIOCMOIT Leadership

While CMOs drown in a sea of new digital marketing technology products and services, CIOs are noticeably not coming to the rescue.

Credit: Thinkstock

The vast majority of companies are failing to seize great digital marketing opportunities, in part because overwhelmed CMOs are in over their heads with technology, while CIOs stand idly by watching this game painfully unfold. Fronted by a marketing paradigm shift and a flood of technology vendors spouting lofty promises, CMOs seem to have come down with a case of paralysis by analysis.

On the other side of the spectrum, a handful of companies are taking charge and coming up with a formal roadmap for digital marketing technology acquisition, integration and data unification. They’re reaping the rewards, according to a survey conducted jointly by the CMO Council and unified marketing solutions provider Tealium.

“We’re able to show there’s a direct correlation between a formalized marketing technology strategy that’s tightly coupled with business, and marketing performance,” says Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, which boasts a membership of more than 7,500 chief marketers. “There’s a very strong argument that marketers need to be much more aligned and attached with the CIO.”

[Related: CIO-to-CMO Transition of Power Is Becoming a Reality]

First, the ugly stats: Only 3 percent of marketers say they’re doing extremely well at integrating marketing technology across functions. A mere 16 percent say their marketing technology strategy is tightly aligned to business strategy. And more than half of marketers are not sure whether their marketing technology investments are producing tangible business value, the survey found.

While the number of marketing technology vendors nears 3,000, most CMOs are hunkering down on only three to six areas of application investment, Neale-May says. Even in cases where a vendor offers a full suite of marketing automation tools, the actual number of activated applications is quite limited.

“What surprised me was that there were less applications deployed than I thought there would be,” Neale-May says. “The percentage of companies with 10 or less is quite high.”

Whats Stopping Marketing From Tap Tech?

While 67 percent of marketers believe new marketing technologies are essential or very important to overall marketing group performance and effectiveness, Neale-May says they’re being held back by technology overload, too many data sources and lack of strategic application and integration of disparate point solutions.

The many different solutions are mind-numbing. There are customer-facing applications for different points of interaction and different ways to engage, solutions to improve the operational side of marketing, and complex technologies to analyze customer data, track behavior and anticipate needs. Then there’s the need to integrate customer data in call-center silos, transactional data, mobile app usage, social media data — the list goes on.

“It’s overwhelmingly complex, and there’s a lack of [marketing technology] talent” for CMOs to build the expertise inside their teams, says Neale-May. “CMOs are struggling to pull all the pieces together.”

In fact, Neale-May’s email inbox is regularly slammed by vendors seeking to gain access to the CMO Council membership. He, too, has a tough time differentiating among them. “If I was a CMO, I would be seeking as much collaboration, guidance, help as possible from the CIO,” Neale-May says. “It’s an area of opportunity for CIOs to bring their expertise, even in terms of just sourcing, selecting and deploying.”

[Related: CIOs and CMOs Must Join Forces to Win Digital Consumers]

More often than not, though, the CIO sits on the sidelines.

“I don’t see CIOs stepping up and saying, ‘We’ll do the qualification and evaluation, make the recommendation, and get our heads around what’s coming into this market space,'” Neale-May says. “There’s a need for CIOs to be more proactive.”

Panning for Digital Marketing Gold

The good news is that there’s gold in them thar digital marketing hills.

According to the survey, half of the respondents with a formal strategy are able to achieve more targeted, efficient and relevant customer engagements. Nearly a third of CMOs who manage and integrate technology extremely well or pretty well are seeing tangible business value, with 51 percent of those achieving greater revenue contributions. Fifty-nine percent of respondents who have integrated a technology strategy within their overall marketing strategy say they’re achieving more targeted, efficient and relevant customer engagements.

In order to achieve this holy grail, companies should think about creating a task force — a compendium of stakeholders, from marketing to sales to IT — tasked with building a global marketing operations platform, advises Neale-May. Such a task force would not only bring together the interests of these stakeholders but also have a budget and mandate to map and model where they want to go and how they want to get there.

“This tends to be what I hear most is happening,” Neale-May says. The need for a task force shows just how daunting digital marketing has become. “We’ve got big disruption of marketing. From sales intelligence all the way to campaign execution, from mobile to global, there’s just a massive amount of stuff.”