Are Pigs Flying? CMOs and CIOs Seek to Get Aligned

SAS and The CMO Council recently conducted research and stated that 80% of marketers and 88% of IT executives cite joining forces to achieve customer centricity as a main priority.  Are the CMOs and CIOs really shaking hands across the aisle?  Is this just lip service, or are there changes being made to ensure KPIs, strategic initiatives, and staff are aligned? 

I still believe there is a fundamental disconnect.  Over the past year, in my numerous conversations with senior-level marketing and technology staff, I have not seen this play out in a substantive way. As discussed in this article by my colleague John Lee, CMO’s need to face the “inconvenient truth” of the new world marketing order of addressability at scale and the effect it will have on their strategy, their organization, and their customers.

But what about the technology leadership?  What is their accountability to this capability?  How are they addressing the needs of Marketing in this world of real-time, personalized customer experience? Every CIO should answer the question: How do the organization’s digital platform marketing needs impact the way my technology organization supports the business?

There are a few things I would ask each CIO address right now:

  1. Don’t ask for requirements, know the requirements – your team should not be order takers, they need to be partners. Partners make substantive, real investment in the business to understand needs, issues, goals, objectives, and constraints as if they are their own.  Order takers wait for a phone call.  Partners have a stake in the game.  IT needs to be one step ahead of the game.
  2. Stop all big data initiatives with no quantifiable business value – 20 years ago, thousands of organizations invested billions of dollars on data warehouses with very little realized value.  Many of the big data initiatives I have heard about are just that – only the data is more voluminous, more unstructured, and more varied. Big data initiatives are currently thought to be a panacea to solving all data issues and providing a single version of the truth. Sound familiar? If you build it, they may not come.      
  3. Acknowledge that marketing technology systems are a core operational necessity – don’t minimize their importance to revenue. In the past, marketing systems were considered secondary (at best) to support and up-time. So what if you didn’t get the direct mail list out on time? Today, they are the life blood to all customer-facing systems.
  4. Get real on your team’s skills – the core competencies and technical know-how of today’s marketing technologist require a deep understanding of the business impact of technology capabilities.  He or she must be natively digital, be able to adapt, and be flexible to rapidly evolving needs. Look at your team. Are you confident that you have the right people in the right seats?

These new platforms are a fundamental shift in the way consumers interact with brands and how those brands stay engaged with their consumers with relevant, personalized, and timely content. It is one of the many capabilities that marketers are using to drive targeted, profitable demand, improve conversions of the right customers, and build brand loyalty. 

And IT leadership needs to wake up to this new world marketing order. 

Imagine the day when CMO’s and CIO’s are hand in hand, completely aligned, and in true partnership.  It brings a tear to my eye, and puts me in mind of Pink Floyd’s  Animals album cover, pigs have flown. Can it happen again?  My bet is that it can, but if you’re a CIO, this is the inconvenient truth.  You need to act now.

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.

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