Digital transformation will transform the CMO/CIO partnership

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Digital Transformation Will Transform the CMO/CIO Partnership

Modern marketing activities have become fully dependent on digital technology. This has made an effective partnership between the CMO and CIO more urgent than ever. To understand this dynamic and how it will change going forward, we sat down with Sydne Mullings, general manager of the U.S. central marketing organization at Microsoft. She provides important insights into digital marketing from a leading organization.

The pandemic has created fundamental and far-reaching changes in the CIO/CMO relationship. As Mullings says, “Customer experience and the customer journey were our key focus even before the pandemic, but the impact of COVID-19 changed the game. Digital became the way we interacted with customers, and our in-person events and meetings had to be transformed to all-digital alternatives overnight.”

In addition, the focus on digital CX was the impetus to add new features and capabilities to CX systems much more quickly. This high level of dynamism required the CIO and CMO to work even harder to stay in sync and ensure this alignment supports projects that deliver innovative new functionality in CX.

“Digital customer journeys and CX are moving faster than ever before and are now a competitive differentiator. IT and marketing teams can’t afford miscommunications,” says Mullings.

...better communication builds greater trust between teams...

The need for more formal and documented road maps or plans has been another major outgrowth of the pandemic. With employees working remotely, we’ve lost all opportunity to encounter colleagues in a hallway or stop by someone’s workspace to ask a question or get clarification. This puts more emphasis on the need for detailed road maps that can be used as a reference to give both IT and marketing teams the specifics they need to complete project tasks. CIOs and CMOs will need to change their management approaches accordingly.

Going forward, changes in the relationship between the CMO and CIO will occur naturally. Communication will be at the forefront.

As Mullings observes, “Both IT and the marketing teams must be much more communicative to share observations, new data, process issues, and how CX systems need to change to respond.”

This is important for several reasons. First, better communication builds greater trust between teams because it minimizes confusion or error that can lead to mistrust. Second, when communications are effective, processes move faster, and this enhances the speed to deliver better CX. Improved interaction also increases agility. Direction is clear, and critical input is shared more effectively.

Take the time to celebrate

To foster improved teamwork for the CMO and CIO, Mullings provides the following tips for both executives and the teams they manage. The first is to ensure that there is continuous, open dialogue between the teams that supports a consistent, shared road map that all parties agree to.

Second: Be certain any changes are known to all and that everyone is working from the current version. Not only does this optimize processes, but it also improves the efficiency of adding new features or upgrades.

Finally, Mullings recommends that teams celebrate their accomplishments. Particularly in remote and hybrid work scenarios, there is often a lack of acknowledgment when goals are achieved or new capabilities are delivered. The pressure to move fast often takes precedence over stopping to celebrate. This is important in fostering a positive work environment and good employee experiences.

The CIO/CMO relationship is important to the entire organization as the move to digital turns into the way business is done. There are unique aspects to this relationship beyond what is normally seen in C-level interactions. A strong bond between these two leaders and their staffs will be a hallmark of successful organizations.