The Value of Marketing Integration

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The work of the marketing department has changed considerably over the past few decades. Focus groups, third-party research firms, and gut instinct drove much of the decision-making of early marketers – those who cried out for more data, better data, and anything to help them make good decisions.

Enter 2015 and the era of big data and advanced analytics tools. Today’s marketing executives and MBA program graduates are drowning in data and looking for ways to use data to its full advantage. Smart businesses are increasingly integrating the roles and strengthening the partnerships of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and the CIO (Chief Information Officer) in order to increase the value and improve performance of each of these powerful departments.

Big Data: The CMO-CIO Link

In 2012, research firm Gartner predicted that, by 2017, the CMO would control a greater share of IT spending than the CIO in many organizations. This prediction is proving to be true, as marketing technology commands ever higher shares of the technology budget. At the same time, an IBM survey of CMOs indicated that the majority of CMOs — 70 percent — felt ill-equipped to handle the demands of big data technology. Big data has become the natural link between the CMO and the CIO.

An Integrated and Interdependent Partnership

According to research firm Forrester, a revitalized CMO and CIO partnership will decide the success of organizations going forward. Forrester’s Cliff Condon said, “CMOs historically focused narrowly on marketing and promotion. That’s not enough in the age of the customer. The CMO of 2015 must own the most important driver of business success — the customer experience.”

CMOs must work closely with CIOs to manage customer-centric innovations and technologies that ensure a positive customer experience — beginning with and including mobile technologies. CIOs and CMOs will coordinate with other players in the C-suite, such as the CFO (Chief Financial Officer), to reallocate operating and capital expenditures to align with a customer-focused, data-centric enterprise. Otherwise, they risk losing market share to more integrated and responsive organizations.

Changing Perspectives

The new integration in marketing will require a new perspective on customer retention in a highly competitive market. Forrester reports that only 22 percent of today’s CMOs prioritize retention activities. Customer engagement, however, will become a new priority.

In addition, CIOs who prioritize their spending on IT operations will see budgets cut in favor of new marketing technologies that enhance and strengthen the relationship with the customers. Forward-thinking CIOs will help their organizations choose new, responsive, cloud-based technologies that will treat the wealth of big data as an asset to exploit in achieving better outcomes for customers while always keeping an eye on cybersecurity.

This new integration and cooperation between the power players in the C-suite, especially the CMO and CIO, will cross traditional lines of authority. The CMO, often considered the brand’s steward, and the CIO, considered mainly a business-processes individual, will find more collaborative roles as CMOs need the knowledge and technology to extract insight from increasingly large stores of data to increase revenues and drive profit.