CIO-CMO Collaboration Drives Better CX and Growth
By working together more collaboratively, chief information officers and chief marketing officers can provide an improved customer experience and, as a result, grow their businesses, Forrester Research concluded recently.
The two positions are working more collaboratively as a result of the pandemic, the research firm says. In 2021, one-third of B2C marketers say that CMOs and CIOs are strategic partners, and the percentage who consider marketing requests a low priority for IT dropped from 23 percent in 2020 to 12 percent in 2021.
But there is a challenge in closing that gap further, says Thomas Husson, Forrester vice president, principal analyst, and lead author of the report.
“IT and marketing people tend to speak different languages. DR may mean ‘direct response’ for a marketer and ‘disaster recovery’ for an IT person,” Husson says.
The word “agile” can also have very different meanings in the two disciplines.
To overcome this challenge, Husson recommended that CIOs and CMOs maintain open and constant communication via a shared lingua franca, a common language that avoids communication traps by using a common glossary of key marketing and technology terms.
“Such an approach will help make clarification a part of the firm’s culture, limiting confusion and helping teams manage relationships with third-party agencies or consultancies that are often caught in a deaf discussion,” Husson says.
He adds that greater marketing and technology collaboration usually leads to improved end-to-end customer journeys, resulting in higher loyalty and faster growth.
In previous reports, Forrester quantified the benefits of such collaboration: Fifty percent of IT leaders who work closely with their firms’ marketing leaders claim their companies are in a better competitive position. They are 1.3 times more likely to see substantial year over-year growth, and 72 percent see profit margin growth of more than 5 percent.
“According to Infosys, 44 percent of top-tier companies expect a collaborative CMO-CIO relationship to boost profitability by 5 percent,” Husson adds. “The results of a tech-minded, collaborative CMO are proven: While 34 percent of traditional marketers struggle with unintegrated systems, more tech-savvy collaborators face fewer challenges, with only 26 percent saying they face integration struggles.”
However, the perfect CMO-CIO relationship is rare, Husson cautions. “A strong partnership between marketing and technology teams is imperative to achieving customer success, but examples of great collaboration between the two have been scarce.”
Some companies that have mastered CIO-CMO collaboration include Chuck-E-Cheese, Hershey, Club Med, Santander, Adidas, and McDonald’s, according to Husson.
McDonald’s, for example, had a great collaborative approach when it deployed mobile ordering internationally. After initial success in France, the company had merged IT and digital by splitting digital functions into two main focus areas: One on engagement (digital marketing, social media) and one on front-end-driven experiences (kiosks, mobile order-ahead). McDonald’s then evolved governance with small, cross-functional international teams of virtual development, marketing, IT, and operations staff.
“The fastest way to align diverging priorities between CMOs and CIOs is to have them focus on e-commerce and hybrid experiences,” Husson says. “Hybrid commerce is indeed the perfect way to ignite CMO-CIO collaboration. Hybrid commerce requires CMOs and CIOs to think more holistically about the end-to-end customer journey and to understand the impact of operations and back-office processes on the customer experience.”