Why a High-Tech World Demands a New Kind of CIO-CMO Collaboration

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Somehow, someway, paella—the dish in front of me right now—is a symbol, and what it represents isn’t just a delicious rice dish; it’s a potential systemic breakdown. We see this in the High-Tech industry frequently.

One of the challenges in making paella is that it takes a while—sometimes up to an hour, which creates tension if you’re dining out and 15 tables order it at the same time.

As is the case right now. I’ve been gnawing on a basket of bread for 45 minutes waiting for the paella to arrive. Surrounded by dozens of patrons doing the same thing, I can’t help but notice chaos through the kitchen window. Servers are screaming for orders that aren’t ready. Every table in the restaurant is full, but almost no food is being delivered. There is a huddle of disgruntled customers whose reservations have been delayed.

In short, this is a bad customer experience.

If only the front and the back of the house had talked with one another; worked out a plan for this together by capping the reservations or putting a limit on the orders. If only things didn’t feel so … broken.

And yet, miscommunication—or no communication—between departments is a common threat to most businesses. In C-suites all over the globe, disparate silos of work create a tangle of competing agendas and ideals. Read: bad for the customer experience.

Take CIOs and CMOs for instance. Research from Forrester tells us that only 46 percent of marketing leaders and 51 percent of technology management leaders have a single view of their customer across all of the company’s touch points.

To solve this challenge, CIOs and CMOs need to do better. We need to communicate; we need to blend job roles. For example, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a sales and marketing tool, but managing it requires IT. Both teams need to come together regularly to make sure the system is serving everyone’s needs.

CIOs can no longer focus only on keeping systems running—they have to think about how to support the brand through technology. Conversely, CMOs can no longer focus narrowly on marketing and promotion; they also have to think about how to deliver technology across multiple platforms. Both executives have to take big data and turn it into meaningful revenue. So, roles are hybrid. Lines intersect.

So how do we ensure that we’re coming together with a common goal and vision?

Glad you asked. Here are five practical suggestions:

  1. Together, we have to create a common definition of an improved customer experience that makes sense for both the marketing department and the IT department.
  2. Businesses should consider building cross-teams made up of people from both the marketing and the IT functions to ensure the proper analytics framework.
  3. Stop, collaborate and listen. We have to agree on what technology is required to deliver real value.
  4. Cite clear marketing goals to gain access to the right data and technology. Together, CIOs and CMOs can discover higher business intelligence.
  1. We must set checkpoints and milestones to monitor progress. Enforce shared accountability to increase business performance through data.

No doubt, the relationship between CMOs and CIOs has never been more critical. The very future of business depends upon their ability to interact with one another, to harness technology together and to interface with customers for a better experience.

In other words, it all comes down to communication, something I hope finds its way into restaurants everywhere soon. Our paella depends on it and so does your business.


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