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September 16, 2013
Digital disconnect: CMOs, CIOs and seeing the potential
By: Mark McDonald

There’s a disconnect rippling through the C-Suite that unhinges executive efforts to keep pace with the digital revolution, fails to keep consumer interest high, and limits the ability to provide relevant customer experiences. New research from Accenture Interactive pinpoints the source of the disconnect - the CMO - CIO relationship. Only one of every ten marketing and IT executives surveyed believe CMO and CIO collaboration is at the right level. So where does the disconnect stem from, and what can be done about it?

Motivational Disconnect

Teasing out where the disconnect stems from starts with understanding why each function believes technology needs to be a priority within their department. When asked to name their top motivators for implementing technology, the issue of “privacy and security for customer data,” brought about very disconnected responses—CIOs rank this issue as their number four motivator, while CMOs rank it as their number eleven motivator. With the growing concern over data privacy in the media and among consumers, it seems reasonable that securing customer data is a large part of the CIO’s technological agenda. However, CMOs might feel that protecting the data keeps them at a disadvantage, restricting them from enacting an effective plan to give consumers what they want – a relevant, in-the-moment experience that is based on the data the CIO wants to secure.

Collaboration Disconnect

Many issues within the CMO and CIO relationship boil down to mixed signals and mistrust. They both recognize the importance of working with each other, but to varying degrees—CMOs put CIOs at the top of their C-Suite collaboration wish-list, but CIOs rank CMOs in fourth place. Even more telling is that, overall, CMOs actually believe that CIOs will place them at the bottom of their collaboration priority list, showing a sense of wariness and misaligned priorities within the company.

So what’s a smart business to do? The Accenture Interactive research outlines the following recommendations to improve collaboration and digitalize business:

Say Hello to the Chief Experience Officer

The shift toward using big data and analytics in business is causing a shift in the CMO’s role. The need for data-driven experiences to meet consumer demand requires a new kind of precision and deep technology understanding to drive them. CMOs must now become Chief Experience Officers (CXO), a transition from a role based on marketing and creativity, to one firmly grounded in providing a superior and consistent end-to-end customer experience.

Strategic Partner, Not Just Provider

The research shows that CMOs tend to view IT as an “execution and delivery” provider. CMOs need to shift their thinking and realize that IT can and should be a strategic partner that helps ensure effective marketing management, while integrating multi-channel and digital components today’s consumers crave.

Increase the Skills Mix

On the other hand, IT executives believe that marketers make promises they can’t keep and do not provide them with adequate information of business requirements. In order to help assimilate, implement, and execute their technology across the corporation, IT and marketing departments need to work together to increase the skills mix and enable the marketing department to become more tech savvy and the IT department to become more nimble and responsive to market demands.

Just Trust Me

Tapping into a business’s full potential to attain loyal consumers and a healthy bottom line in the digital age begins with and lies in the hands of the CIO and CMO—it can be achieved by simply reaching out, offering understanding, and trusting one another to get the job done.

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