By Adam Fraser
The worlds of the marketing and IT departments have never been closer.
As I previously discussed, there are now a plethora of software tools available to marketers. Approximately 2,000 tools. Being comfortable with technology and analytics is no longer an optional extra for digital marketers – it’s table stakes. As often quoted, Gartner have forecast that by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.
The term Chief Marketing Technologist is becoming increasingly understood and adopted in the USA – the true hybrid CMO/CIO role. As Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec.com describes, it’s a “marketer who understands technology. A technologist who is passionate about marketing” . A Gartner study from 2013 in the USA showed that 70% of companies sampled had a chief marketing technologist.
In early 2015, the Economist Intelligence Unit with Marketo surveyed 500 senior marketers from around the globe. Two of the key conclusions were
- Marketing needs to invest in new digital skills and operational expertise – marketing is shifting from an art form to art & science
- Marketing must leverage technology to succeed in this world of individual engagement at scale
In considering the synergies of a collaborative approach between marketing and IT, I like this quote from David Rubin, head of brand at Pinterest, from a KornFerry paper “Driving Change in a digitally transformed world” :
“With greater philosophical alignment between the CMO and CIO, technology turns into a weapon – instead of a cost.”
The PWC Digital IQ survey in 2014 indicated 5 key behaviours driving the success of an enterprise’s digital strategy, one of which was listed as the strength of the CMO/CIO relationship.
Many trends in the digital marketing space are global, but this particular topic is one I think where there is a clear disparity between the USA and Australia. In Australia whilst there is certainly awareness and discussion on the CMO/CIO convergence, I don’t think we have progressed to the point where the true hybrid role has gone mainstream.
Quick experiment to confirm – searching on Seek.com.au today (Feb 25, 2015) there were multiple listings for CMOs and CIOs but zero search results returned for the term “Chief Marketing Technologist”.
The over-arching reason why the CMO/CIO convergence issue has become the topic of so many conversations is based on the broader shifts happening in the market, namely the “digital revolution” driving the need for significant change management processes within enterprises. The Altimer group define digital transformation as:
The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.
Unquestionably the worlds of the CMO and the CIO are converging and will continue to do so. A key question to consider – is this departmental relationship enough to facilitate a true enterprise-wide digital transformation? The stakes are high in executing on this. An excellent 2012 study from Cap Gemini and MIT showed how digital leaders outperform their peers in every industry, driving real results for the bottom line.
Interestingly, the Cap Gemini/MIT study identified 6 common factors driving the successful digital strategies of the digital leaders, one being:
IT-Business relationships. Digital transformation is about re-defining big parts of the business, and IT is essential in doing it. In some companies, the CIO is the perfect Building Digital Maturity: Digital DNA person to suggest and even drive digital initiatives; in other cases the digital agenda will be driven by business or joint IT-business teams. In any case, shared understanding between IT and business executives is critical to success.
A common view is that the CMO should lead the digital transformation of an organisation. The 2014 State of Digital Transformation Study from the Altimer group confirmed that 54% of CMOs were driving digital transformation versus 29% CIOs/CTOs (and only 42% of CEOs).
Whilst customer facing aspects are not the sole consideration in an enterprise’s digital transformation, understanding the digital touch points across the end to end customer experience clearly represents a key aspect, hence the obvious interest of the marketer in driving this change management process.
We need technology solutions to meet a business requirement which is executing on a corporate strategy. Ultimately the CMO v CIO issue, whilst critical, is only one aspect of the jigsaw puzzle. The key is driving the overall business changes needed and reaching the desired strategic end point, not necessarily the methods (or org structure) you use to get there.
What is clear is that IT is a key enabler of this process. The extent to which they are driving the process may vary depending on the individual characteristics of an organisation, but at a minimum they absolutely need to be engaged, contributing and facilitating.
Marketers clearly have a seat at this table, quite often at the head, but the key for any organisation is to remove the silos and harness the collective IP of the senior executive team to drive the holistic digital change program needed in these dynamic times.
With other business processes arguably also in play beyond marketing – including customer support, internal collaboration, operating efficiency and employee retention to name a few – this digital change process will sensibly encapsulate more than just the CMO and the CIO. It also needs to be backed by CEO sponsorship.