There isn't a lot of love lost between marketing and IT. Marketers complain that IT is too slow to respond to their rapidly changing needs. Regrettably, that frustration has led many marketers to invest in their own applications and IT infrastructure, which creates a set of shadow IT systems that hold data and information duplicated elsewhere in the organization.
Duplicate data has to be managed, and it often conflicts. For example, new information that has been added about customers in a customer relationship management (CRM) application that is owned by the sales department doesn't get reflected in the application the marketing department uses. Worse yet, the information the finance department has about the customer doesn't align with the information that either the sales or marketing departments have about the same customer.
Much of this chaos has been accepted as standard operating procedure inside far too many organizations. As the New Year begins, chief marketing officers should resolve to put aside their IT biases to work more closely with their chief information officer (CIO) counterparts. Not only is a massive amount of money being wasted on IT infrastructure to process duplicate data, but also a lot of that data is plain wrong. By working more closely with CIOs, the CMO can free up a lot of cash that could be spent more effectively, while at the same time getting the organization closer to the customer.
Getting closer to the customers is one of the top three priorities for most CEOs today, according to a recent IBM study of CEOs. That job falls to the CMO. But the ways in which companies engage customers are more diverse than ever, resulting in a huge amount of complexity. In fact, a separate IBM survey of CMOs found that the four major challenges facing CMOs are data explosion, social media, proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics. Collecting all the data needed to manage marketing is only half the battle; applying analytics tools that make it easier to identify risks and opportunities has become mission-critical. None of that is really going to happen without some major help from the IT department.
The good news is that CIOs view business intelligence and analytics as being of the utmost importance for increasing competitiveness over the next three to five years, according to an other recent IBM survey, this one of CIOs. Roughly two-thirds of the CIOs surveyed identified customer analytics and related enabling technologies as strategic investments.
What all this means is that most of the senior business leadership inside most companies have similar goals. The challenge now is getting everybody to agree how to best go about executing those goals. And the first constructive step towards making that happen should be a meeting between the CMO and the CIO to first identify what exactly needs to be done to achieve that goal, and then determine who best should execute what part of that plan in order to turn a 2012 resolution into an actual new business reality.
— Mike Vizard is a veteran technology journalist.
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