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Why your CIO should be your WBF


Is your best friend your CIO? Because it should be. In the good old days, IT’s time was taken up handling system set up and maintenance for traditional data producing functions in the business, such as finance or manufacturing.

But now one of the most important relationships tends to be with marketing. Because marketing has transformed to an almost entirely technology led discipline that has to handle data volumes and complexities that the IT Director of yesterday would go cold over. Not convinced?

Let’s review the evidence:

  • 63% of European marketers say that understanding marketing technology is a critical skill for senior marketers to be successful with 73% already having a dedicated CMT in place. (DataXu)
  • Marketing technology represents a third of brands’ total marketing budgets (Gartner)
  • 78% of IT people think they work collaboratively with marketing. Only 58% of marketers agree that’s the case. (eConsultancy)

With all this new and constantly evolving technology comes a huge increase in complexity for marketing, paired with divergent pressure from the consumer to increase simplicity in their brand experience. In short, you really, really need IT on side.

It’s a bit like when you see a water bird swimming along the surface, up top all appears still and tranquil as if it was the easiest thing in the world (consumer experience) whereas under the water the bird’s legs are paddling like mad against the current (marketing).

Here are a few figures that illustrate the contrast:

  • Nearly one in four respondents found marketing automation systems too complex to be used effectively. ( B2B Online)
  • More than half of 500 CMO respondents believe the accelerating pace of technological change, mobile lifestyles, and an explosion of potential marketing channels via IoT will change the field the most by 2020. This will be driven by billions of possible interactions between a company and its customers, forcing CMOs to manage staggering amounts of complexity. (Economist Intelligence Unit)
  • One CEB study used a “decision simplicity index”. The easier a brand makes the purchase decision-journey, the higher its decision-simplicity score. Brands that scored in the top quarter in the study were 86% more likely than those in the bottom quarter to be purchased by the consumers considering them. They were 9% more likely to be repurchased and 115% more likely to be recommended to others. (CEB/HBR)

The secret to managing this is to use the one to reduce the other. What we mean here is using “making it simple for consumers to spend with your brand” as a singular focus to cut some of the clutter behind the scenes. Viewing all your efforts through this singular lens will help you to easily see where unnecessary complexity has arisen, i.e. where you are doing something that doesn’t contribute to your goal of simplicity for the customer.

A real world instance of “doing it right” came to our attention recently, courtesy of a mobile phone provider. Pivoting from one simple data input point from the customer (their phone number), the company links this to account data to render an entirely custom web experience for every user. There’s information on your handset, plan, accessories and help topics that are likely to be of most use to you. The really important bit is it feels so natural that you almost don’t notice they’ve done it.

All this seamless customer experience and high tech marketing wizardry requires a huge commitment of time, will and other resources from IT.

So, how can you get these essential figures bought in to your projects?

We discussed earlier how close IT and Marketing are becoming as disciplines, but the reality is that this isn’t necessarily true for the teams on the grounds day to day. Here are a few top tips to ensure you play nicely with your IT colleagues:

  • Involve IT in your decision making from the outset – this means they don’t have to come in and rain on your parade later on
  • If you’re going to understand technology (and we hope you agree that you should) don’t leave out the important yet boring bits like security and integration, not just functionality
  • Make sure you understand the whole cost of your projects, not just how much the kit itself costs, but how much time it’ll take to implement and integrate.

Even if your current relationship with IT is more adversarial than comradely, there’s always scope to improve and the best place to start is by initiating some face time, switching off phones etc. and just listening to things from their perspective. You can’t keep pace with your consumers without IT support, so it’s essential that your whole team prioritises and invests time in this essential working relationship.

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