Are marketing executives growing their own IT departments?

Accenture survey finds chief marketing officers aren't happy with the pace of enterprise technology, and are taking their own paths.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

In a report it just issued, Accenture says there's a hug gap between CIOs (chief information officers) and CMOs (chief marketing officers). With marketing going heavily digital, and demand for big data analytics on the upswing, it's no surprise that marketing leaders are building their own technology fiefdoms -- and some even have bigger tech budgets that CIOs.

Data Center NASA Photo credit NASA Office of the CIO
Photo credit NASA Office of the CIO

And both IT and marketing departments are taking responsibility for marketing capabilities. The Accenture survey of more than 400 senior marketing executives and 250 senior IT executives finds more than one-third of CMOs and CIOs spend over 30% of their budgets on technology-enabled marketing.

But it doesn't make sense to have two parallel IT departments under one roof, which appears to be where things are going. And worse yet, these two IT departments may be competing with each other -- for resources, and for executive support.

Is there room for engagement? The survey finds CIOs are keener on aligning efforts between the two departments than CMOs. Nearly eight out of 10 CIOs agree that alignment is needed, compared to just over half of CMOs. Only one in 10 marketing and IT executives say collaboration is at the right level.

"CMOs and CIOs have a trust issue," the report states. "Both functions focus on building other C-suite relationships before investing in the marketing-IT relationship."

IT and marketing aren't seeing eye to eye on things. For starters, CMOs are not happy with the technology status quo in their organizations. While 61% of CIOs feel their companies are prepared for the digital future, only 49% of CMOS share this optimism. Their dissatisfaction is reflected throughout the survey -- CMOs  expect much quicker turnaround and higher quality from IT, with a greater degree of flexibility in responding to market requirements.

About 47% of CMOs complain about the complexity and difficulty in integrating solutions, while 37% of CIOs complain that marketing is bypassing them and contracting directly with tech vendors. The list goes on and on.

The key takeaway from this needs to be:  Forget the turf battles and focus on one thing: the customer. Technology should be designed for the best possible customer experience and service possible. IT needs to deliver this, and marketing needs to deliver this. It's a basic, simple rule that everyone seems to forget.

Accenture makes the following recommendations to bring the CIO and CMO back together for this common purpose:

Identify the CMO as the chief experience officer (CXO): Accenture makes this recommendation based on the thinking that the consumer experience and consumer-centric measures should be in the CMO's domain.

Accept IT as a strategic partner with marketing, not just as a "platform provider": "Both functions should work together to understand what systemic changes in their operating model need to occur to allow them to take advantage of new technologies rapidly while reducing cost and complexity."

Agree on key business issues, such as access to customer data vs. privacy and security: Together, both IT and marketing "should manage, measure and optimize marketing investments, resources and campaigns. Sitting within their own silos with independent perspectives will only continue the downward trend in business success."

Change the skill mix to ensure that both organizations are more marketing- and tech-savvy: The best route is building blended skillsets in which both IT and marketing employees are knowledgeable both about IT and business.

Develop trust by doing just that—trusting: "Consumers don’t have the time or interest for the inefficiencies and mishaps that arise when marketing and IT work at cross purposes," the report warns. "Consumers can take their business elsewhere—and they will. CMOs and CIOs must open the floodgates of communication, pollinate cross-disciplinary teams of marketing and IT pros and welcome each other in the C-suite."


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