CIOs Are From Mars And CMOs Are From Venus

About halfway through conducting a survey of corporate CIOs and CMOs about the state of omnichannel development and collaborators, EPAM, CIO magazine and the CMO Club realized a fundamental problem with the research. They were asking both sets of executives their opinions and forecasts about basic items like “digital product," “platform” and “omnichannel” and realized each group actually had different definitions of the same terms.

“We were using the same words but they didn’t mean the same thing,” says  Marty Focazio, Managing Director, Strategic Services for EPAM Systems. A word like “agile” has a specific meaning to a techie involving software development, while to a marketer is refers to flexibility within the entire organization to pivot according to market conditions. “CIOs are from Mars and CMOs are from Venus,” he quips.

So they went back and asked respondents to define their terms. It turns out that CIOs defined “digital product” more as custom software managed by the CIO group, while CMOs saw it as off-the-shelf or SaaS solutions aimed at an ongoing business need. Most striking is the contrary views of what “omnichannel” means. The CIOs defined it as “systems that are fully integrated, with real-time data flow to and from all end points, regardless of location or business.” The marketers defined omnichannel as “as customer experience that is consistent and appropriate across every touchpoint in every location.”



Which is not to say that CMOs and CIOs are not getting along. In fact the study of over 400 executives across the two camps reveal both CIOs and CMOs  generally agree that the relationship between them has grown closer. Seventy-one percent of CMOs and 63% of CIOs felt that over the last three years the relationship was either much closer or somewhat closer.  But when it comes to forecasts of budget shifts in technology spend, more CMOs (68%) feel that the CIO will get less, while 44% of CIOs feel the share of budgets under their control will remain the same.

The place where the two sets of executives part most dramatically is on the topic of mobility. There is a genuine tug of war going on here, as evidenced by the fact that 86% of CIOs and 74% of CMOs feel they have ownership over mobile projects, while there is considerably less contention over who controls content management, online video and eCommerce platforms.

“There have been knockdown screaming battles over who owns mobile,” says Focazio. The systems are so complex and require such robust development that they require new levels of technical sophistication. On the other hand mobile is also all about the experience on the user end. “They both feel it is too important not to own,” he says. “You have two very important roles pulling at two different ends of the rope.”

One of the problems is that mobile continues to reside in a silo. “There are still companies that treat mobile the way the Web was treated as a weird thing over there while the real business is over here,” he adds.

Meanwhile, the more mature businesses are treating mobile as just another face of the company. Any project, from customer loyalty to changes at point of sale are assumed to need some mobile integration. “You think about all the touchpoints at once,” he says. “You organize key business functions as a service and apps that can be consumed by any end point.”

The travel and accommodation industries appear to be leaders in this regard, he finds. “Retail is getting there. They are showing effort against an incredible barrier and a willingness to take their licks in the marketplace and compete for better mobile experiences with each other.”

Mobile is not only the flashpoint between CIO and CMO. It is the launching point for integration skills and relationships across marketing and tech that will be critical to mastering the next stages of connectivity beyond desktop and mobile. Mobile is where a new set of skills and different organizations will be honed for future use, EPAM recommends.

The full report is available at EPAM’s site.    

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