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With better trust and alignment, marketing and IT can create a digital marketing strategy that improves customer experiences across channels.
Right partners, wrong perceptionsIt is no exaggeration to say that every business is a digital business. Technology, along with data, analytics and design, underpins and shapes the entire customer experience. Information technology is not only pervasive; it is fast becoming a primary driver of market differentiation, business growth and profitability.
As a result, chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) must work more closely together than ever before. For CMOs, consumers’ expectations for relevant experiences are having the longestterm impact on marketing strategy, according to recent Accenture research.1 For CIOs, technology is finally able to deliver relevance at scale and treat buyers like individuals, thanks to data analytics, integrated marketing platforms and multichannel delivery systems.
In fact, marketing is so inextricably linked to technology that by 2017, CMOs are projected to spend more money on information technology and analytics than CIOs,2 a remarkable development considering that CMOs regard digital orientation as their weakest capability—at the exact moment when it needs to be their strongest.
To overcome this gap and infuse a digital focus in all business processes and functions, there is no more important a function for marketing to align with than information technology. On the surface, CMOs and CIOs seem to agree. Dig deeper, though, and CIOs feel a greater need for alignment. Nearly eight out of 10 agree that alignment is needed, compared to just over half of CMOs.
Worse, only one in 10 marketing and IT executives say collaboration is at the right level. Despite their growing understanding that they must be more closely aligned, CMOs and CIOs have a trust issue. Both functions focus on building other C-suite relationships before investing in the marketing-IT relationship. As a result, the two functions are disconnected in how technology should support and enable improved marketing performance.
Notably, CMOs expect much quicker turnaround and higher quality from IT, with a greater degree of flexibility in responding to market requirements. CMOs view the CIO organization as an execution and delivery arm at a time when they should consider IT as a strategic partner and involve CIOs when planning new marketing investments.
The two functions need to work together to educate and bring their C-suite colleagues along on the path of digital integration. As the vice president of IT at a US bank put it, “A cohesive approach to digital requires 100% platform engagement across all LOBs to deliver a unified experience."
Five imperatives to improve marketing and IT performanceThese are the findings from the 2012 Accenture Interactive CMO-CIO Insights survey of more than 400 senior marketing executives and 250 senior IT executives across 10 countries.
Based on their responses, five imperatives emerge to build trust and improve alignment between the CMO and CIO functions:
Identify the CMO as the chief experience officer (CXO).
Accept IT as a strategic partner with marketing, not just as a platform provider.
Agree on key business levers for marketing and IT alignment, such as access to customer data vs. privacy and security.
Change the skill mix to ensure that both organizations are more marketing- and tech-savvy.
Develop trust by doing just that—trusting.
As consumers head full speed into a world where brand and technological experiences are indistinguishable, revamped marketing and IT organizations need to be jointly responsible for owning the design of the customer experience. Data insights, technology and creative strategy must unite to orchestrate experiences across channels and business units. With a platform of trust and transparency, powered by analytics and technology, CMOs and CIOs will be able to seize the digital opportunity and provide the relevant and seamless experiences their customers demand.
Split from the startThe beliefs of CMOs and CIOs often diverge radically. A large majority of CIOs (61%) feels their companies are prepared for the digital future. CMOs are more hesitant, with just under a majority (49%) feeling their companies are prepared to leverage digital channels.
Even in their concerns for the future, however, they don’t share the same reasons for feeling unprepared. The top concern of CMOs (43%) is insufficient funding for digital marketing channels. When digital platforms are funded and built, organizations also must fund the right mix of skills and resources to leverage platforms successfully. Platform development does not always equate to full use when capabilities are inadequately funded.
The chief concerns of CIOs (50%) are solution complexity and integration difficulties. In a fragmented cloud services world, CIOs are challenged by what it means to have infrastructure.
In another example, both functions agree on the need for greater collaboration, but further digging reveals a much different picture. Globally, 77% of CIOs agree they need to be aligned with CMOs, whereas only 56% of CMOs feel this way about CIOs. CMOs are beginning to see alternative ways to buy technology capabilities wrapped by services, such as partnering with outside vendors rather than with the CIO.
Marketers want more freedom from IT, and IT wants more planning and compliance with standards. Some 45% of CMOs say they want to enable their employees to access and use data and content without IT intervention. Some 49% of CIOs counter that marketing pulls in technologies without consideration for IT standards.
This is the crux of the issue: who operates the technology to drive outcomes, who controls the design of experiences.
Short-circuiting in the C-suiteWhile CMOs appear not to be as collaboratively inclined as CIOs, they actually place greater value on their CIO relationships. CMOs rank CIOs as the second most important C-suite relationship, while CIOs rank CMOs.
Surprisingly, the CEO is not the most important relationship for CMOs or CIOs. The most important relationship for CIOs is with the CFO; for CMOs, it’s with the chief sales officer (CSO). The finance organization is only the fifth most important C-suite group for CMOs (out of eight). CMOs may want to improve their relationships with CFOs, not only as an influencer on CIOs but also as marketing ROI becomes even more critical to demonstrate.
In one bright spot, both CMOs and CIOs believe their relationship with each other has improved over the past year. Some 45% of marketing executives believe their relationship with the IT organization has improved the most over other C-suite functions. A nearly equal proportion of IT executives (47%) says their relationship with marketing has improved but not as much as with five other C-suite functions (business units/geographies, CFO, COO, sales and procurement).
Across the board, however, only about one in 10 executives say C-suite collaboration is at the right level. While an almost equal number of CMOs (41%) and CIOs (42%) feel that much more collaboration is required with each other, CIOs feel more collaboration is required with business units and the sales organization at the expense of marketing. In contrast, CMOs feel they need to work much more with the CIO compared to any other C-suite organization.
Discrepancies like these occur when too few people take the customer view. Instead, the customer journey is force-fit into artificial sections that contract the seamless, non-stop journey that customers naturally take.
“I think we could better integrate or unify by understanding the strategies, goals and needs of the other and then collaborating to align our objectives.”Director of Marketing, Fortune 500 US insurance company
Clashing on collaborationWith collaboration in short supply, it’s little wonder that CMOs and CIOs disagree on why marketing and IT should be aligned. In particular there are fundamental disagreements over accessing, using and securing customer data as a competitive advantage.
Marketing strategy is increasingly focused on how to leverage Big Data. Turning this data into relevant customer experiences at scale is a far cry from past capabilities focused on creative and brand strategies. These new services require a new kind of rigor and a deep technology backbone to enable them.
Not surprisingly, then, marketing’s #1 driver (out of 15) for aligning and interacting with IT is access to customer insight and intelligence, but that driver ranks #10 for CIOs. A typical IT concern—for privacy and security around customer data and brand protection—ranks #4 for CIOs but #11 for CMOs. CIOs rank IT’s strategic capability as the #5 reason for alignment, while CMOs see IT as more of a platform provider, which they rank as the #9 driver.
Voicing basic frustrationsEssentially, CMOs view the CIO organization as an execution and delivery arm, not as a driver of marketing strategy and excellence and a partner to be considered on equal footing. CMOs expect much quicker turnaround and higher quality from IT, with a greater degree of flexibility in responding to market requirements.
Nearly five in 10 CIOs say that marketing makes promises without agreement from IT, while only four in 10 marketers agree with that assertion. Some 36% of CMOs say that IT deliverables fall short of their expectations, while 46% of CIOs respond that marketing does not provide an adequate level of business requirements.
Disagreeing on prioritiesCMOs and CIOs have an obvious trust issue. Nearly half (45%) of CIOs report that they put marketing IT near or at the top of their priorities, whereas 64% of CMOs think marketing IT is placed at the bottom of the CIO’s priority list.
Unsurprisingly, CIOs are not aligned with CMOs on marketing priorities. This makes it difficult to collaborate on common goals—much less achieve them—when the partners don’t know each other’s priorities.
Marketing and IT executives agree that gaining better customer insight and reaching the market more efficiently must be at the top of the CMO’s agenda as it relates to technology adoption and usage. But IT executives see tying analytics to business outcomes as more important (45% of CIOs vs. 33% of CMOs), while marketers value lead generation more highly (43% of CMOs vs. 35% of CIOs). More CMOs than CIOs also think it’s more important to improve marketing productivity and performance (44% vs. 36%).
Nor are CMOs aligned with CIOs on IT priorities. Large differences exist in appreciating marketing platforms, social media and campaign management as priorities. CIOs typically want to measure results to optimize campaigns. CMOs want to generate leads and sales. Because they are not marching to a common purpose, collaboration cannot occur.
Some other examples of misaligned IT priorities:The CIO’s #1 priority is advancing platforms to aid in marketing measurement and campaign optimization. That ranks #8 out of 16 priorities for CMOs. The CMO’s #1 priority is deploying better marketing execution and operational systems and platforms. That ranks #6 for CIOs. Some 30% of CIOs want to further the use of social media and online listening and contact systems; only 24% of CMOs do. Some 26% of CIOs want to introduce closed-loop campaign measurement and tracking capabilities; only 19% of CMOs do.
Though they agree on how technology can improve access to and leveraging of customer data, there is a surprising lack of integration across online and offline channels. A comprehensive view of the customer requires understanding all aspects of their purchasing journey to serve them with the right messages and offers in the right channels at the right time. This integrated view needs strong analytics, insights and feedback loops so that customer data can be continually refined and results improved. This is the holy grail for marketers, yet only one quarter of CMOs and CIOs have completely integrated customer data, while four in 10 are struggling.
Facing common internal obstaclesWhile their beliefs differ in many cases, chief marketers and IT executives have at least one thing in common: an equal number (36%) of CMOs and CIOs face challenges in implementing solutions to improve marketing effectiveness. Leading the list of internal obstacles are solution complexity and integration for both CMOs (47%) and CIOs (42%).
Other internal obstacles point to the need to improve trust and transparency between the two functions (Figure 8). More than three in 10 CMOs feel that IT keeps marketing out of the loop, doesn’t make the marketing function a priority and doesn’t make time and technical resources available. For their part, more than three in 10 CIOs agree that they keep marketing out of the loop and don’t provide the time and technical resources to help. They also believe that marketing bypasses IT to work directly with vendors.
Closing the trust gapTo improve their working relationship, five imperatives should take hold to build trust and improve alignment between the CMO and CIO functions:
Identify the CMO as the chief experience officer (CXO). CMOs must take responsibility for the consumer experience and drive consumer-centric measures. By understanding the drivers of a connected customer experience across channels, including strategic requirements (such as flexible user interfaces and a unified view of consumer data) and critical enablers (such as technology platforms and operating models), the CXO plays an important role in making the multichannel strategy an integral part of a company’s business strategy. CIOs and other members of the C-suite should be jointly responsible for driving business outcomes from effective experiences and for building closer relationships with CMOs in the process.
Accept IT as a strategic partner with marketing. When planning new marketing investments, marketers should not view IT as just a delivery platform. Both functions should work together to understand what systemic changes in their operating model need to occur to allow them to take advantage of new technologies rapidly while reducing cost and complexity.
Agree on key business levers for marketing and IT integration, such as access to customer data vs. privacy and security. Alignment should be prominent in the agendas and investment plans for each function. Already more than one-third of CMOs and CIOs spend over 30% of their budgets on technology-enabled marketing, so it’s clearly important to both functions. Moreover, budgets are sizeable. About one in three marketers globally and two in five IT executives say their budgets are more than $500 million. To harness the power of technology and analytics, CIOs and CMOs and their C-suite colleagues need to be laser-focused on crafting the most relevant consumer experiences. They should embrace tools, processes and platforms to unlock consumer intent—while maintaining privacy and security—as the key to delivering consistent and relevant customer experiences across channels. Together they should manage, measure and optimize marketing investments, resources and campaigns. Sitting within their own silos with independent perspectives will only continue the downward trend in business success.
Change the skill mix to ensure that the marketing organization becomes more tech savvy and the IT organization becomes more agile and responsive to market demands. CMOs should empower their teams to drive technology decisions and become savvy about digital technology architecture, collaborating with their technology counterparts to serve the demands of the digital age. The vice president of IT for a US telecom company suggested more crosstraining to better understand the needs of both functions. The IT vice president at a US retailer recommended “blended skills, not marketing and separate IT but rather a team where each person has a combination of both.”
Develop trust by doing just that—trusting. The only way to build trust is just to do it. Successful marketing depends on it. Consumers don’t have the time or interest for the inefficiencies and mishaps that arise when marketing and IT work at cross purposes. Consumers can take their business elsewhere—and they will. CMOs and CIOs must open the floodgates of communication, pollinate cross-disciplinary teams of marketing and IT pros and welcome each other in the C-suite.
“Dotted-line reporting of marketing into IT and vice versa...”VP of Marketing, Fortune 100 UK insurance company
“ This requires a top-down setting of priorities starting with CEO expectations and calibrating with all verticals. For example, including key IT employees in marketing meetings, sales conventions, etc., would give them more context to their work and better appreciation for timelines. There could be some reciprocity here with key marketing employees appropriately involved with IT work.”VP of IT, US retail company
Seizing the digital opportunityDespite their contrasting views in many areas, CMOs and CIOs are not far apart in agreeing that reaching and engaging the market has become more technology driven, with technology now underpinning and shaping the entire customer experience.
They need to work together to educate and bring their C-suite colleagues along on the path of digital integration. As the vice president of IT at a US bank put it, “A cohesive approach to digital requires 100% platform engagement across all LOBs to deliver a unified experience.” The vice president of marketing at a US high-tech firm went one step further, recommending an “executive mandate and metrics aligned with organizational objectives.”
“A cohesive approach to digital requires 100% platform engagement across all LOBs to deliver a unified experience.”Vice President of IT, US high-tech firm
About the researchThe 2012 CMO-CIO Insights survey, sponsored by Accenture Interactive, aims to understand the opinions, challenges and points of view of senior marketing and IT executives as they relate to marketing and IT alignment.
Results are based on online surveys across 10 countries with 405 senior marketing executives who are key marketing decision makers in their companies. Results from IT executives are based on 252 surveys across the same countries, using the same screening criteria.
Most companies have at least US$1 billion in annual revenues. Corporations in France, Australia, Singapore and Brazil have annual revenues of at least US$500 million.
Nearly half (48%) the companies experienced flat or little growth in 2012. Another 36% showed significant growth, while the remainder (16%) had negative growth.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-tobusiness- to-consumer (B2B2C) corporations represented the most prevalent business models for both CMOs and CIOs, at about 40% each, with business-to-business companies making up the remainder. Financial services represented the biggest sector (35% for CMOs, 37% for CIOs), with products companies close behind (31% for CMOs, 29% for CIOs). Communications, high-technology and media companies represented 17% for CMOs and 18% for CIOs. Resources companies made up 8% for CMOs and 5% for CIOs. A variety of other companies represented 9% for CMOs and 10% for CIOs.
Some 45% of CMO respondents were based in Europe, Africa and Latin America (EALA). Another 40% were located in North America, while 15% were headquartered in Asia-Pacific (APAC). EALA also represented the largest geographic contingency of CIOs (43%), followed by North America (40%) and APAC (17%).
AuthorsBrian WhippleBrian Whipple is Managing Director of Accenture Interactive, a business of Accenture that helps companies develop industry-leading digital marketing capabilities, including the development and management of websites and interactive marketing, as well as the optimization of online and offline marketing and merchandising investments. Brian leads all of Accenture Interactive’s global consulting domains including Digital, Marketing Analytics, Media Management, Marketing Data Management and Marketing Transformation. Prior to Accenture, Brian was Chief Operating Officer of Hill Holliday, an advertising and marketing services firm headquartered in Boston.
Baiju ShahBaiju Shah is Managing Director for Strategy & Innovation in Accenture Interactive. In this role, he oversees Accenture Interactive’s business strategy and manages a portfolio of emerging business services. He is responsible for identifying and catalyzing new waves of growth by creating new business services that address unmet needs in the everevolving marketing landscape. He has worked closely with clients across industries including Verizon, Chrysler and P&G on strategies that take advantage of emerging technology and analytics as a competitive advantage in Digital. Baiju’s expertise lies in digital marketing, advanced analytics, and technology market adoption.
About Accenture InteractiveAccenture Interactive helps the world’s leading brands drive superior marketing performance across the full multichannel customer experience. Working with over 5,000 Accenture professionals dedicated to serving the marketing function, Accenture Interactive offers integrated, industrialized and industry-driven digital transformation and marketing solutions. Follow @AccentureSocial or visit accenture.com/interactive.
About AccentureAccenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 266,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
August 5, 2013
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