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IT and digital marketing coming closer together, though more needed

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28 July 2014

The divide between chief marketing officers (CMO) and chief information officers (CIO) is narrowing but companies are still struggling to deliver integrated digital marketing solutions, according to research from consulting firm Accenture.

Accenture questioned 1,150 senior marketing and IT executives globally, and found that even though both sides were working more collaboratively than in the past to take advantage of digital opportunities, they “remain at odds” on a number of issues involving how to drive integrated digital marketing solutions for their customers.

The report found that 43% of marketers and 50% of IT leaders thought their relationship with the other has improved over the past year. Also, nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents believed collaboration between the two teams is currently at the right level, up substantially from last year’s Accenture CMO-CIO Insights survey, where only 10% of respondents felt collaboration was at the right level.

The report shows marketing and IT departments are aligned on the importance of marketing IT, as more than half of respondents rank it at or near the top of their priority lists (52% and 53% respectively). Both parties also agree on the top five marketing IT priorities: customer experience, customer analytics, social media, corporate web site, and other web development.

But the survey highlights many challenges still facing the two groups. For example, 40% of CMOs believe their company’s IT team does not understand the urgency of integrating new data sources into campaigns to address market conditions – an increase of six percentage points from last year’s survey.

Additionally, 43% of CMOs now say that the technology development process is too slow for the speed required for digital marketing, compared to 36% who held that view a year ago.

For their part, CIOs are increasingly frustrated by shifting goals and a perceived lack of vision from their marketing counterparts. More than four out of 10 (43%) IT executives said that marketing requirements and priorities change too often for them to keep up, an increase of three percentage points from last year’s survey. Also, one in four CIOs (25%) now believe that CMOs lack the vision to anticipate new digital channels, compared to just 11% who expressed that view last year.

“The CMO needs to develop a vision and strategy for how customers experience the brand while the CIO needs to deliver the tools and technology to bring those experiences and campaigns to life,” said Brian Whipple, senior managing directo, Accenture Interactive. “Together, they need combined processes and perhaps even organisations to make this happen. If one works without the other in a silo, customers will feel the impact and switch brands.”

Senior marketers and IT leaders alike are also struggling to get the multi-channel experience right, as they try and follow their customers who are using mobile devices more often.

Around 42% of CIOs and CMOs say that technology is siloed and too cumbersome, which makes it difficult for them to craft cross-channel experiences for their customers, and this figure represents an increase of eight percentage points from last year.

Although 43% of CIOs believe it is important to develop a consistent and relevant cross-channel experience, 45% say the complexity of channel-specific experiences precludes them from being able to provide one platform to manage it.

Accenture says companies need to invest more time in establishing a digital vision and make sure CIOs and CMOs collaborate with each other more tightly to bring the vision to life. They also need to “unify” around the customer experience to create a truly digital business.

In addition, they need to “rethink” the operating model to integrate customer-focused skills throughout the company, and develop a marketing model and budget that “aligns with a new ecosystem of marketing services”.


Antony Savvas, Computerworld UK

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