August 22, 2013 11:07 pm

Bridging the marketing and IT disconnect

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Companies are missing out on the opportunity to improve their relationships with customers because their information technology and marketing chiefs are not working well together, according to a report published today by Accenture, the IT services group.

A survey of 400 senior marketing and 250 IT executives in 10 countries found that only one in 10 believe collaboration between their corporate functions is sufficient.

The report, titled “The CMO-CIO Disconnect”, says that corporate IT leaders appear to be more committed to greater collaboration than their marketing counterparts. While 77 per cent of chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed believe working with their advertising counterparts is important, only 57 per cent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) feel the same.

But despite being more open to engaging, only 45 per cent of chief information officers believe it is high on their list of priorities.

The study also reveals a degree of distrust between the two corporate functions. More than 30 per cent of chief marketing officers believe that IT keeps marketing out of the loop and does not make time and technical resources available. In addition, when IT does become involved, 36 per cent claim that the results fall short of their expectations.

Conversely, almost half of the CIOs – 46 per cent – claim marketing does not provide an adequate level of detail for their business requirements.

The survey also points to the ability of business leaders outside the IT department to sign up themselves for cloud-computing and other ‘shadow IT’ services without involving corporate IT, as another area of friction. While 45 per cent of CMOs say they want to enable their teams to leverage and optimise data and content without IT intervention, 49 per cent of CIOs counter that marketing uses technologies without consideration for IT standards.

The gulf between the two functions is also apparent when they are asked about the main reasons they should collaborate. While marketing chiefs claim that gaining customer insight is their number one motivator for collaborating with IT, chief information officers rank this tenth on their list of reasons to work together. IT leaders say their top motivation for collaborating is to improve the customer experience, which their marketing counterparts rank as only their third most important motivator.

“The CMO and CIO continue to work in silos, but now more than ever bridging the gap between those two organisations is critical for success,’ said Brian Whipple, global managing director of Accenture Interactive.

Mr Whipple acknowledges that executives face a variety of challenges when collaborating, ranging from a lack of trust to differing business goals. But he says, “these issues must be resolved to turn a company’s digital marketing capabilities into a platform for market differentiation, business growth, and profitability.”

The one positive to emerge from the Accenture study is that despite the collaboration issues raised by the survey, both 45 per cent of marketing executives and 47 per cent of corporate technology leaders believe their relationship has improved over the past year. Additionally, almost an equal number of CMOs (41 per cent) and CIOs (42 per cent) believe that significantly more collaboration with each other will be required to drive relevant customer experiences.

In order to facilitate closer collaboration, Accenture argues that the CMO should be identified as the “chief experience officer’ and that IT should be looked at as a strategic partner with marketing and not just as a platform provider. In addition, Accenture says the skills mix in both organisations should be updated whereby the marketing department would become more tech savvy and the IT organisation would become more agile and responsive to market demands.

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