Why marketing is the CIO’s number one tool today

Why marketing is the CIO’s number one tool today

Customer experience is no longer a nice to have, it’s become an imperative, says Nicole Crump of TactixICT. So what does this mean for CIOs and their teams?

Remember when delivering a service or product to a market was reasonably straight forward with limited channels available? Customer experience normally consisted of a face to face experience or a telephone conversation. How times have changed, says Nicole Crump.

The managing director of TactixICT notes the growth in cloud, mobile, social and data platforms has challenged and will continue to challenge the way more established companies deliver their products and services to market.

At the same time the opportunities for companies operated by the younger kids on the block are immense.

She explores what is in store for CIOs and their teams in this new environment:

New businesses coming to market are often unhindered by the need to have a large sales force and the resulting large overheads. For these people customer engagement is limited to online/electronic communication and the idea of a face to face meeting with a customer would be a foreign experience. So which model is the right one? The answer is neither.

The majority of companies who want to grow in today’s market will need to be able to understand which are the right distribution channels to use to satisfy the customers who either want a quick electronic transaction or others who require the involvement of a sales person to provide a consultative approach. This provides other challenges - how do you deliver both without creating conflict between the various channels and who in an organisation is responsible? Is it marketing (where it would traditionally land) or the IT department who are integral in delivering the technology?

Smart progressive companies who understand the need for different ways of delivering the customer experience will have their CMO and CIO working closely together as a team. The sales teams normally aligned with marketing need to understand the role of that the CIO/IT team play in delivering the customer experience across the new channels demanded by an increasing number of customers.

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Strategic partnerships

“Global research company IDC supports this need for both the CMO and CIO to work closely together. It predicts that 90 percent of IT industry growth through to 2020 will be driven by the third platforms of cloud, mobile, social and big data. IDC also predicts that 50 percent of applications will be purchased directly by the business, not the IT department.

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At the same time, business needs are significantly altering how services are delivered. IDC expects that by 2018 one third of the top 20 market share leaders in most industries will face significant disruption by new entrants leveraging third platform technologies.

Gartner offers up similar views and expectations as to how application and service delivery are rapidly changing and the impact this will have on the role of the CIO.

Just to further illustrate the point, only last month, IDC released new research suggesting that outside of core infrastructure and services, the business division most likely to be working closely alongside IT and helping spend a large amount of the IT-related budget – is the marketing department.

It’s critical that everybody in your IS team understands that it doesn’t matter how technically clever they are, if they don’t deliver a great customer experience, life will shortly become a lot less rewarding.

Nicole Crump, TactixICT

Read more: Preparing for the digital economy? Think bi-modal, says Gartner

Adding to the challenges faced by CIOs, customer experience is no longer a nice to have, it’s become an imperative. According to a regional IDC research project in 2014, customer experience has become one of the top three priorities for businesses in New Zealand and Australia.

Customers, whether external or internal, now expect (and demand) a consistent, enjoyable experience when interacting with any kind of application, website, mobile app or service. And they don’t care if it’s hosted next door or half way around the world. If they don’t have a good experience, they’re not happy customers.

Any retailer will tell you that unhappy customers vote with their feet and their wallet. That means your organisation loses business as customers go elsewhere and if IT can’t support the business quickly and effectively, guess which department stops being invited to hang out with the cool kids in marketing?

So the opportunity exists for marketing and IT to work alongside each other to create the ultimate customer experience on whatever delivery platform the customers engages with. It brings new opportunities to do business in a more efficient and engaging manner, more targeted to a customer’s needs.

It will require a change of thinking by all those involved but the companies that get it right will be on the ones who will win and retain customers. Sales people may be selling a ‘productised’ cloud based solution that requires a vastly different approach than the traditional approach to consultative selling.

Nostalgic for those good old days? Sorry but they’re long gone and it’s critical that everybody in your IS team understands that it doesn’t matter how technically clever they are, if they don’t deliver a great customer experience, life will shortly become a lot less rewarding.

Read more: Gartner: Preparing the IT team for public cloud

I would suggest that the biggest challenges facing CIOs and their teams today all revolve around the customer experience, whether that customer is the CEO, a new staff member learning how to use your internal systems or the external customers of your organisation.

Editor’s note: Nicole Crump is the managing director of TactixICT, a specialist consultancy that develops, refines and implements marketing and sales channel programs for technology companies. Her previous roles include chief marketing officer at Digital Mobile, senior roles at Vodafone including SME marketing manager, and senior business product manager at Qantas New Zealand.

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