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CIO upfront: CIO/CMO collaboration is a must

CIO upfront: CIO/CMO collaboration is a must

Data, design and analytics are uniting the CIO and CMO for customer value, writes Ben Morgan of Accenture Interactive NZ.

If your CIO routinely disapproves of your CMO’s obsession with speed and scant regard for institutional processes, or your CMO has little patience with the technology function’s standardisation and security concerns – now is the time for change.

By 2020, 60 per cent of all New Zealand enterprises will have fully articulated an organisation-wide digital transformation strategy, and will be in the process of implementing that strategy, according to IDC’s NZ IT Industry Predictions, 2018: The Ascent of the Digital Enterprises.

At the heart of this will be a marriage of C-suite roles, and a more responsive and nimble organisation. These roles are dramatically evolving – none more so than the chief marketing officer (CMO) and chief information officer (CIO).

The CIO role is transitioning from that of a delivery executive to a business executive; from controlling cost and engineering processes to driving revenue and exploiting data, the 2018 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey reveals.

Over the past decade, marketers have become experts in leveraging emerging technologies to reach new audiences. In 2012, Gartner predicted that by 2017, chief marketing officers would be more immersed in technology than chief information officers, which is becoming a reality.

Technology now enables almost all customer interactions and generates unprecedented volumes of data and content. The ability to analyse that information and integrate it into ongoing campaigns to engage customers is a hallmark of marketing success.

If your CIO routinely disapproves of your CMO’s obsession with speed and scant regard for institutional processes, or your CMO has little patience with the technology function’s standardisation and security concerns – then now is the time for change.

In the digital environment, the CIO and CMO must have a close working relationship, and if that hasn’t happened yet, the likelihood is your organisation isn’t digital ready, because the critical areas of IT and marketing are not aligned.

Data. design and analytics are key to successful collaboration. CIOs, of course have deep expertise in both – and the whole enterprise view. By aligning the CIO’s insights with the CMO’s knowledge of the brand, and then sharing the metrics, the two functions can craft valuable customer experiences.

For example, content is a rich area for collaboration between the CIO and CMO. Digital businesses generate vast amounts of it, from user generated blogs and social media ratings to customised and curated content, video, interactive apps, and syndicated content. Analysing and understanding all this diverse content, and formatting and tagging it, so it can be accessed and optimised across technology devices – needs to be a joint enterprise.

Digital disruption is driving counterintuitive thinking in multiple sectors and creating new KPIs. Locally we have the outstanding examples of accounting software company Xero and Air New Zealand which have used technology to revolutionise the customer experience. Indeed, the latter is arguably as much a digital retailer these days, as it is a national airline.

Traditionally, marketers have focused on maximising the time that customers spend in-store on the assumption that this will also maximise the amount they buy, and engender loyalty.

Analysis now tells them, however, that many people just want to get in and out fast.

Organisations must get a grip on the new algorithm gatekeepers and learn to navigate and engage with them.

Ben Morgan, Accenture Interactive NZ

By working with the technology function to develop such innovations as smartphone apps, they not only meet the demand for speed but they can also persuade people to come back and repeat a satisfying experience.

Marketing technology is fuelled by big data. Daily interactions where customers are engaging and communicating with their favourite brands are building customers’ digital footprints. It’s vital that marketing teams have the necessary technology to strategically leverage this data to deliver customer communications experiences, and the CIO has a key role in achieving this.

Then, there are the big shifts in analytics – think algorithms. These are expected to dominate in 2018, performing the role of gatekeeper between consumers and brands, according to Accenture’s Fjord Trends 2018 report.

With the emergence of new interfaces – messaging, chatbots and voice powered by artificial intelligence, customers have new ways to explore their possibilities. These discovery mechanisms are often highly curated; a good example of this is Spotify.

AI is set to transform businesses in ways we’ve not seen since the Industrial Revolution, reinventing how businesses run, compete and thrive.

By 2019, 40 per cent of digital transformation initiatives in New Zealand will use artificial intelligence (AI) services; by 2021, 75 per cent of commercial enterprise apps will use AI, over 75 per cent of consumers will interact with customer support bots, and over 50 per cent of new industrial robots will leverage AI, according to IDC NZ.

CIOs, if they haven’t already, must move from a mindset of thinking in terms of storing and providing data to having a handle on algorithms. Organisations must get a grip on these new algorithm gatekeepers and learn to navigate and engage with them. They will need to explore which aspects of their brand architecture to play up and play down. While marketers become more immersed in technology, there is a pressing need to efficiently analyse and take action on data. AI will allow marketers to get out this analysis role and create powerful messaging and strategy. CIOs should now invest in technology that leverage data and helps develop AI in the organisation.

Many organisations in New Zealand have reached a level of technological maturity to advance to the next stage of digital evolution, becoming a digital native, according to IDC NZ’s 2018 industry predictions report.

The only thing that can hold them back will be an innovation impasse, caused by legacy systems constraining transformation and a lack of business vision, says IDC.

Therefore, it is key that CIOs and CMOs act as one. The further the lines blur between IT and marketing, the greater the opportunities are for organisations to understand their customers, deliver better value and - in doing so - capture a larger and more enduring market share.

Ben Morgan leads Accenture Interactive in New Zealand.

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