According to a new CMO Council study with SAS, entitled “Big Data’s Biggest Role: Greater Partnership Drives Enterprise-Wide Customer Centricity,” as organizations realize the importance of delivering on a more customer-centric overall business strategy, big data has emerged as the real glue that has permanently cemented the relationship between the two functional leaders
The growth and proliferation of digital engagement channels that reach from online to social and mobile experiences have inextricably linked the chief marketing officer and the chief information officer. The issue is that this link has been at varying degrees of connection, from tense cooperation to total collaboration.
Marketing/IT Relationships, April 2013 (Marketers Descriptions of Relationships With CIO/IT Department)
% of Respondents
Aligned, but still challenged to execute on priority project
Challenged by divergent priorities and limited budgets
At the starting point to build a strategic partnership
Total partnership and alignment between marketing and IT
Nonexistent as IT rarely brings anything constructive to the table
Tense, lacking alignment or common ground
Source: CMO Council, April 2013
A recent study from Gartner revealed that investment into digital channels is on the rise, with enterprises with revenue in excess of $500 million earmarking some 12.5% of their marketing budgets to digital marketing. Some are even tripling that spend percentage.
But the rise of marketing technology and the impact it has on the CMO/CIO relationship is not a new debate. In the CMO Council’s first glimpse into the relationship, neither marketing nor IT believed they were highly effective partners, more often struggling to achieve common goals in the race to adopt and keep pace with rapidly evolving digital marketing capabilities.
Marketers agree that there is no shortage of data; in fact, data is seemingly everywhere and for many, the lure of collecting everything has led to a scenario where data repositories are overly bloated. In the world where data is everywhere, it is easy to see why both IT and marketing executives feel the strain:
According to both 85% of marketers and 85% of IT executives who participated in the study, the relationship between the two is critical to the execution of customer-centric programs. Both also agree that working with one another to achieve customer centricity is a priority, even if marketing (45%) and IT (32%) feel that customer-centricity sometimes means something different for their cross functional partner.
Marketers view their role in the journey to customer centricity as being the primary architect of customer engagement strategies. There is also a sense that marketing is ready to take on the load of analyzing the aggregated data, brought from across the organization with the help of IT, into actionable intelligence that powers the customer-focused touchpoints across the entire enterprise.
72% of marketers believe that marketing is and should continue to be the group defining platforms, including critical systems that will analyze and monitor customer data and profiles. Yet 34% of marketers are only moderately satisfied with their current data and analytics platforms, while 37% are actually fairly unsatisfied.
While data has added visibility and accountability across all functions that engage with and touch the customer (according to 44% of marketing respondents), marketing admits there is significant room for improvement when it comes to integrating the company’s ability to measure across all
57% of the marketers surveyed believe they are missing data that could be essential to the development of a more robust and actionable customer profile. When asked what they were missing, 71% indicated they would like to see more predictive analytics included in their data repository.
In the end, marketers are unsure if they are ready to fully exploit big data, sensing they may not have the right talent to fully execute truly customer-centric programs.
While marketing struggles with platforms and is looking for a middleman between marketing and IT, IT is actually volunteering for more involvement, provided they have the bandwidth and budgetary support along with that deeper integration. CIOs agree that the CMO’s primary role in realizing a customer-centric enterprise is to be the architect of the customer engagement strategy, and they believe that IT should serve as primary champion of the engagement, measurement and collaboration technologies.
IT executives believe they are being brought into the marketing technology conversation from the very beginning of the strategic conversation. However, they also see that while they are partners in technology advancement, they should be brought into the conversation as overarching customer engagement strategies are being discussed. 62% of IT respondents indicate they want to be brought in earlier and more frequently, and 39% are pushing for more regular customer strategy sessions that involve both groups.
35% of respondents defined the partnership as having IT aggregating data from across the enterprise while marketing focuses on understanding and managing the analytics. IT’s belief that marketing’s primary role in achieving customer centricity revolves around developing the engagement strategy, as previously stated, but also in gaining better customer insight and intelligence (69%) and understanding customer requirements and expectations (56%).
What is uncovered by both marketing and IT is that while they both see value, both want deeper collaboration. What is lacking is not the will to partner, but the mandate to partner. The lack of top-down leadership became most evident when both marketing and IT were asked to identify the primary owner of the customer within their organization. The picture that emerges is one of chaos, ill-defined ownership and organizations without a clear center point that is dedicated to advancing customer centricity.
But ultimately, both believe the partner function is a priority as 68% of marketing believes they are a priority for IT and 67% of IT says they believe marketing sees working with IT as a priority.