This brings us on to the old chestnut of marketing and tech -- or as its modern incarnation, the relationship between the CMO and CIO. There's no need to go over old ground here, but suffice it to say while everyone is publicly saying the relationship is great, the old friction points are there. Marketing feels that tech teams are too slow and expensive in contrast to SaaS cloud-based alternatives, while the tech team can sometimes feel that marketers don't get the complexity of providing what they're asking for and ensuring it works with other systems. Going round the tech team for some "credit card IT" is not uncommon and only serves to wind up the CIO and leave the organisation with the potential of having valuable data sitting in silos.
I was chatting about this the other day with Dan Rogers, VP of marketing at Salesforce.com. While he claims that cloud platforms that comply to an organisation's standards could well be the answer -- not surprising, given whom he works for -- he raised a very interesting point that as we are on the verge of wearables being adopted, iBeacons being installed in shops and the Internet of things is taking shape, novel customer journeys could well be the thing that brings marketing and tech closer than ever before.
“We’re moving to marketing meaning reaching peoples’ mobile devices and wearables through new channels, such as beacons and the Internet of Things, to establish a one-to-one relationship,” he said.
“For that the CMO needs the best tools to create the best customer-serving platform, which opens up this one-to-one relationship – just as Uber opens up a relationship between passenger and driver which didn’t exist before.
“That means the CIO can now play a crucial role in offering the entire organisation a single vision of the customer in this world of interconnected devices. So the two roles need to share a single vision and create this customer journey which will span from marketing across to sales, purchasing and billing. It’s a massive new opportunity.”
So just when we want to get a one-to-one relationship with customers, that vision runs the very real risk of being fractured by multiple touchpoints and communication channels.
Rogers went so far as to suggest that the CIO will increasingly find it necessary to proactively map out this new customer journey with the CMO, and then develop the technology that equips the marketing team with the tools to remain personal and intimate with consumers across an increasing array of digital channels.
A new infrastructure must be built, and the CIO is the guy in the hot seat. The CMO and the CIO, by definition, will have to work more closely together for their mutual benefit and the progression of the brand.
That would be a happy ending. However, an alternative could be that these new channels cause as much disruption internally as they do externally. If external partners are offering better iBeacon or wearable tracking as well as processing messages from the Internet of Things into actionable insights at faster speeds, could that pull the CMO and the CIO in opposite directions?
It has to be a risk, doesn't it?
Although the risk is there, I have a gut feeling that the fear of the disconnect -- which was brought about by the digital data revolution -- will encourage CMOs and CIOs to work more closely together.
If they don't, there will be a lot of external suppliers out there offering services in the cloud that are just a credit card number away.
So as the landscape becomes more fractured, if your marketing team isn't already talking to the tech team about a new infrastructure shaped around upcoming customer journeys, it might well be time to get together over a pizza.
The potential strains are already there, and could pull the department in either direction. To my mind, the next couple of years really will be make or break time for the two departments.