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CMO CIO marketing

The CMO & CIO - Poised To Lead

In a virtual work world where the technology, data and connectivity is the only way to operate while consumers and customer needs have changed in a seismic way, we discuss why the Chief Information and Chief Marketing Officers are setting the future direction for business and are being entrusted to lead.


Episode 032 TOPICS:


  • The growing relationships between CIOs and CMOs, and where that road goes?

  • Why digital transformation is not a choice any more 

  • Insights from Andy Caddy and Laura Dawson

  • Collaborating to improve the Customer Experience 

  • How marketing and IT accelerate change

Across the Pond- Marketing Transformed

32. The CMO & CIO- Poised to Lead



As a marketer, it’s evident that two unusual combative parties are rapidly shifting to working closer together, to focus on digital transformation. In fact, if anything positive can be taken out of this Covid 19, it’s that it’s probably forced the issue for digital transformation. It cannot possibly be ignored moving forward. It stands for much more than suddenly working from home over Zoom or WebEx, it’s about digging deeper, digging real deep to deliver the value in a more digitally driven world, and as I said it doesn’t matter who you are. Whether you’re really young, being taught by teachers virtually through working age or even older throughout your life cycle staying connected with family and friends, we’re just much more digital in the current climate of social distancing. 

While, if we think about a few weeks ago, the poor CEO have been playing the role of the referee and having to manage finance and supply chain and HR, for many companies actually the CIO and CMO are setting the future direction of the business. Simply put, there’s less scepticism about why they have a seat at the table in a virtual work world where the technology and the data and connectivity is the only way to operate, and where consumer and customer needs have changed in a cynical way, the CIO and the CMO are in high demand. They’re entrusted to lead. Now, I’m bigging them up here, Chris. Does that ring true to you?                                                                                                         



Absolutely. If there was any doubt before, digital transformation is not a choice. It’s dominating the boardroom, it’s dominating conversations at the moment about how it’s so rapidly sped up, and to tell you something there’s two key players there, if players is the right word. The CIO and the CMO and they’re having to come together to look at these issues that are being raised. Interestingly, there’s a team at a real estate company called Cushman & Wakefield and there’s an article about work they were looking at called Future Work Office Post Covid19. And they’re saying, fast forward in the future by as much as a decade, they estimated that this crisis has delivered, and as telecommuting, Zoom meetings with kids screaming in the background become the new normal, it starts to make you think where does this take us?

 As the virus brings some other aspects into play as well. Interestingly, China feels they’ve managed to get back to work quickly because they’ve got quite sophisticated technology in the background about circulating high quality, purified air and that’s a real issue apparently, in some western offices. 

So, it does make you think as working from home becomes increasingly easy and popular, will employees get less tolerant with workplaces that fail to promote health and wellbeing? And I think that’s an interesting fact, where that work life integration will change your perspective where actually, when we’re in the office we’re going to want it to be a safe environment, otherwise we’re going to choose not to go in, I imagine.


Yeah, it’s renegotiating the value equation for the world of work. And there’s a great Gartner piece on things that CIOs should be focusing on right now and the shift from the day to day operation, thinking a bit longer term such as training employees, helping them understand and use tech but also, fit that into their line of work and life schedule. Not just how to use it, but things like privacy and security to make sure that business operations, there isn’t any risk there. And a point we’ll come to later, the role of making things like self-service and self-service technology better, you’re doing that internally but you’re now having to make it available to your customers externally as well, because they’re becoming more and more demanding and you have to meet their needs as well.


Wait, What Do CMOs and CIOs Do Again?


Let’s start trying to understand these roles now, Sam. Now, look, I think we’re clear what a chief marketing officer looks like, obviously in some organisations that include commercial responsibility as well as marketing and we’ve talked about how martech is a part of that, as well. But the chief information officer, the CIO, is the corporate exec in charge of information technology, the strategy, the implementation, the hardware, the software, they oversee the data and look at how new tech provides value in the business as well. Importantly they’re normally point person for digital transformation as well. 

The interesting thing, we talked a few episodes back, quite a few episodes back I think now, as just as marketeers saw an explosion of middle ranking digital marketers rising through the ranks to become CMOs as they become more important, the same applies with IT as well. We saw IT managers extending their role into operations, that then opens the door for CIOs to be involved in the strategy and how organisations can take advantage of the internet, which will obviously be more a part of the everyday life of most organisations. And therefore, the CIO is seen as a strategic partner, another C-suite executive intent on developing a vision and demonstrating how IT can support that.

Interestingly as well, they’re also there for innovation as money becomes the premium, they have to find smart ways to develop new ideas. Tech-hackathons is a clear one, so, not only have they got all of those responsibilities, they’ve also got short bursts of creativity where they’re looking at potential solutions to business challenges as well. So, it’s a big remix, Sam, and it’s evolving. So, one possible reason for the clash, I think is that this is two heavy weights with large, sometimes overwhelming, responsibilities and clearly they’re going to rub up against each other from time to time. 



Yeah, there is that tension and that conflict but there’s also a clear need to work together. The interesting thing is, the martech companies have been saying for years when selling the software and the tools, they’re normally talking with the CIO or CTO. And they’ve struggled to connect with the CMO in those organisations as a key influential stakeholder in the process, or even as the person buying. It’s a bit debatable if it’s because the marketing function is deprioritised or just didn’t have the budget, or perhaps simply lacked understanding of the technology and how the world of marketing has changed and integrated with it. 

If we could find a way, if they could find a way to make a collaborative process, a creative process between a CIO and CMO, you talked about creativity earlier, and have  that shared vision to work together to then execute the next steps of driving the business. It could be areas such as lining up on the brief and then procurement process up front and have stakeholders working together to craft that. But, if that doesn’t happen, then ultimately implication is going to take longer or not happen at all, and it's not even being used and ultimately digital transformations are going to take longer and longer and longer. 

Ultimately it’s about change. Definitely, I see an opportunity for a mindset shift for the CMO to see the CIO as the missing piece to their team. So, they’re actually teammates, they’re colleagues working together. CIO, CTO is the missing piece, digital support structure that helps make marketing’s ideas a reality. For example, you could brainstorm things like new customer apps or new digital downloads, for example reducing wait times and transparency with customers. Without the CIO, CMO convergence the discussion could have been more creative, but the infrastructure would not have existed unless you put those two together to make that vision a reality.



Yeah, so, let’s look at what great looks like, and how difficult it is to get there. I mean, as I mentioned before and you just talked about, CIO responsible for digital transformation, meaning that they need to work in a cross functional way and there’s a report by HBR Analytics, it’s called Transformation Masters, if you want to check it out, that depicts the scenario. So, it’s fast moving, cross functional teams of people from parts of the organisation experiment and innovate together to deliver new products and capabilities at an unprecedented pace. The old leadership rules don’t apply anymore. And what that’s going to mean, that should be familiar to all of us, and what it’s going to mean is that any C-suite executive is going to need com-skills, empathy, the ability to build bridges, and that’s a challenge. 

These are classic skills associated with HR and marketing, how do you connect with people with values? The aims and the missions so that you can keep focused on the bigger picture. And it's perhaps sometimes difficult for some who are happier dealing with ones and zeros. That’s not a stereotype but there are some tech directors who are very much happier on the operational side when actually a lot of CIOs now, what they need to do is take a bigger picture from a role within that. 

It could also be argued, Sam, that the CMOs need to move the other way, not just about proposition development or creative ideas. So, much of marketing is done via the product or the martech, unless you can manage a complex product plan, unless you understand the difference between your front-end developer and your data architect you’re going to struggle. If you don’t know how each cog is going to integrate and how it makes a great project then how can you empathise with your key stakeholders?

 So, real challenge there I think, Sam. It reminds me, one of the hardest jobs I did was at Inspired Entertainment when I purposely put myself into a software company after many years in media, and I sat on project gate calls for hours at a time understanding a tenth of what was discussed, if indeed that until it started to click, and some of it absolutely never clicked. Fourteen different nationalities of developers, really complicated technology, yet if I hadn’t done that, then how am I able to start to develop my knowledge of where marketing starts and where product knowledge comes into it a bit more.


Person-Centred Business


Yeah, I think you’re moving us to personalising this and really walking the shoes of the colleagues of those functions in those areas, and when I was sitting in with the IT team, for me it was a revelation. In fact, what I started to find was that my colleagues in those departments were very centred on designing a system that worked collectively or worked in an integrated, interdependent way. What I mean is, if it was important to one brand then naturally they wanted to build an eco-system that allowed all the brands to leverage that same learning. 

If we knew consumers were complaining about let’s say a lid of a product, or the cap of a product, then all the brands should be on the watch out to take corrective measures with that information. Essentially they were actually saying that, hey we as a function are providing insight, let's join them up to the people who can take action and help deliver a better customer experience. 

We come back to customer experience because for me, that’s where it all starts to see how it links to marketing in a great way. I’ve seen the agile start-ups that thrive on that, embed their IT people on the team with sales and product and design and marketing, and that was just an obvious way of setting things up. However, my experience in legacy companies, legacy packaged good companies especially is that they have a huge blind spot, they’re very siloed, often marketing has a very transactional relationship with information and IT teams and marketing still wants to call the shots or the general manager still wants to call the shots. I recall setting up a hackathon or a website when I was working on a consumer-packaged goods brand and I was getting questions as to why IT was involved, why were they invited? IT was in a different building and only recently had few of the team members located where the marketers were. And it kind of blew my mind completely until I realised it was more about the marketers being territorial, it was more about who owned the website not what we were going to do for customers, and my point there is there’s a need for marketers, especially in the legacy organisations, especially legacy leadership, to walk in the shoes of their IT peers and colleagues. Shift from thinking of themselves as order takers and behave as collaborative partners.



Yeah, good point there. There’s a group CTO, he used to be CIO of Virgin Active, a guy called Andy Caddy and he said that the new job description of CIO involves relationships and transparency, collaboration and business value, the great digital leaders of the next decade will need to understand the business intimately, they will be the masters of change and they can only do this if they’re familiar with the businesses that they are changing. I think that’s music to our ears to be honest, Sam. 

But interestingly, if we talk about leadership you can have too many chiefs, and it can be a case of not knowing who’s taking the lead in that. And I think one aspect that’s happening is around marketing technology. Some experts predict that spending on martech will reach one hundred and twenty billion by 2025, Ogilvy the agency network has a nine hundred strong martech army in its midst and we’re seeing countless takeovers of large organisations taking over large software companies effectively, salesforce acquired Tableau for fifteen million, Adobe acquired Marketo for four point seven five billion. So, the point here is that martech is here to stay, so unless you spend all of your time in this world, you’re going to need your CEO by your side to help navigate that. Does the CMO understand the tech well enough to specify the needs? And how does that work? I think the final point there, Sam, is that marketers are not seen as great at briefing, we talked about that whether its creative briefs, and I think it’s the same for technology as well. So, you need to forge that relationship with your CIO if you want to be successful and you want to get the right technology into the business.



That briefing part you made, I had flashbacks there, and in sense part of the driver is that the CMOs don’t want to be subservient to the CIOs. But that’s not even the right way to think about it in my eyes. Building on what you said before, it’s inevitable that the future lies in just making it about the customer experience. Taking the customer experience view is the uniting force. It’s about that common ground and collaboration, the ability to bring together all the data and information and having a single view of the customer and the metrics that matter to support the acquisition, retention and advocacy strategy as the company wants to try and hit. Both the CIO and the CMO can make the case that they are crucial to enabling things to be better for the customer, be it making the products easier to find and use, easier to buy or easier to get help or service. Marketing and IT can channel their efforts into customer experience. It could be things like how fast can you open up your bank account. Or the ability to stop or cancel a service and Chris, in a recent show you talked about the ability to cancel your sports service as a really easy example.

Thinking about the KPIs that these folk need to be working on, things like just the customer net promoter score, which both companies can work together in or the digital experiment pipeline, so, how much experimentation is happening and how quickly are they bringing things to market? The digital conversion rate. So, all of those areas are CIO and the CMO relevant areas. There’s a critical link also to the links that we had in episodes 12 and 13 on metrics, about ensuring that there’s a collaborative contribution to those metrics from the PR, shop and media but also the IT and marketing functions and areas such as page load speed or customer web form registrations and so on and so on; so, my mantra always is the person closest to the data gets to make the decision. That’s a key rule that fuels collaboration and gets the best out of everyone’s expertise. 

Making the Relationship Work


Yeah, well said. So, if this relationship is as important as the marketing director and the CMO for instance, in order to make sure digital transformation happens, then what does it mean at an everyday level? 

  1. There has to be respect for personality types. I think, you have to understand there are different types of people within the organisation and you have to respect that. 

  2. You have to know your job roles, and you have to spend time with the individuals and just ask what they do, it's not a crime that you don’t know, there’s plenty of new job roles coming up, so you have to understand that. 

  3. You’ve also got to think in tasks as well as propositions. A project plan will fall on common ground and common understanding, something that I think a lot of the tech function relates to more than marketing function in a way. 

  4. You’ve got to learn. Whether it's HTML or how to insert a Facebook pixel or understand and read a Gartner report on martech, it doesn’t matter, but show willingness. 

  5. You’ve got to carry on fighting your corner, a bit of healthy competition, there’s always going to be a push on budgets and you're there to champion the customer and champion the customer experience, so you got to do that.




Yeah, I love that Chris. You gave out five ideas there for people to think about, and I’ll take the lead from that and think of a few that the audience can listen to or pass on to marketers or people in PR, creative functions that they work with. And if you’re sitting there right now thinking how do I think about this? Then embrace the challenge of scarcity or lean resources and impossible deadlines that are surrounding us right now and you think about it differently, that actually you sit as close to the CIO as the CMO when everyone works from home. You have the same proximity to your supply chain organisation and the tech can actually help you work in agile ways, improve your productivity and share knowledge easier and faster on things like product availability or customer needs, turning off and on marketing on a regional and local level. 

Another really just practical upside is the reduction in time to get meetings started on time. I think the tech actually helps us do that. Shift in behaviours, we can schedule meetings for half an hour instead of an hour, very practical things that we can do. But we can also think externally. What issues do your customers have? Do the customers have concerns about your ability to deliver? A customer might be saying, if I buy your product can you deliver on time? Will your inventory or logistics cause delays? Customers have a lot of anxiety right now about visiting the physical location and purchasing the product, is the product safe? So, what steps are you taking to ensure customer health at your site? How do you serve customers if it's not open for business? 

All of these are great questions to start to fuel into discussions and debates and the tech can help you to come up with solutions. There’s a great example from the Salvation Army research and an example from Switzerland, they’ve been able to deepen their relationship with supporters through an SRM based loyalty program. It’s a non-profit and their marketing team could email an update explaining that the store was still open or suggest other stores as alternatives to their loyalty card holders. And that has a huge application for so many more brands right now, you could copy similar micro and GR targeted customer engagement. 

Another thought that came to my mind is, if you’re a brand like an appliance brand like Sub Zero or something like that, you’ve made investments in IOT, you must be gathering so much more data now. About how people are using their appliances, how the products are performing, perhaps identifying opportunities to encourage your customers or consumers to take earlier maintenance actions or service options or keeping food at peak freshness for the food items, and bringing people together precisely for cooked meals. So, the technology is there, how are you using that to service or inform your customers or audiences? Those are just simple things you can think about right now and put into action. 



Great example, Sam. And the great news is that it's also shown that CMOs and CIO have to work together to take those digital transformation budgets as recession bites. There’s a survey by a publication called CIO, and it says that CFOs had ranked digital transformation and customer experience investment as much lower on the list of potential cuts than general cap ex and even workforce, and across the world there is a common picture happening. There's a mortgage servicing firm in Minneapolis who suddenly had to enable 500 employees to work from home on an infrastructure that only allowed 165 remote users. There’s tech-heads across the world buying new laptops for remote users, sometimes off consumer retail sites as demand spreads. While at the same time, CMOs are wanting to ensure that customer service SLAs are not compromised, so, what do you do? 

Well, the first thing you do of course is collaborate. Make sure that you seize the opportunity and embrace the change. There’s a new dynamic where we all have to balance risk and reward in a slightly different fashion than we did before. That’s probably less time for testing but that does mean that there’s greater risk, but it can also mean faster progress as well. And you need to continue to innovate together, and perhaps be prepared to innovate quicker, the cycles are probably shorter. And for the CIO and the CMO to over communicate together, to keep in touch. 

I was struck, just before we wrap up, Sam, there’s the London School of Economics, the LSE in the UK, there’s a director of IT there, Laura Dorson and she’s saying that the LSE serves around two thousand five hundred staff and fourteen thousand students, and early march there was a decision to do all the teaching online by March 23rd. That’s not a long time scale to take what is a relatively physical environment and make it completely digital. And again, that has been seen in education establishments the world over. And what really struck us was, it’s a very common situation that and our ability to actually transform our operations at a very, very fast speed has been incredible over the last month or two. Now, interestingly, she talks about crisis management training as being a reason and a decisive factor and enabling that, sort of setting a clear strategy, making swift decisions and I did wonder how many CMOs have gone on crisis management training as well as their CIO counter points. We talk a lot about disaster recovery on the technology side, but I do wonder how much of that went on from a CMO perspective. An interesting point to finish on, I think, Sam. Maybe that’s why we’ve seen the CMO come to the fore at this point in time. 



Yeah, definitely a principle of competitive response but also emergency preparedness. Preparing for future scenarios and future proofing your business, and that is something that we should come back to in a future episode.


Today’s Three Key Takeaways


  1. This is all about not having a mindset of competitive players. See the CIO and the CMO as collaborative forces. 

  2. Lead the business into the future by having a customer experience focus.

  3. Move fast. Experiment. It’s about accelerating, don’t sit on the side lines, be the catalyst for change. 




Yeah, good summary there, Sam. So, next week episode 33, we’re going to be looking at SaaS, Software As a Service marketing and how to get it right and how to get it wrong. As it becomes more and more important, what techniques are needed and what can we learn from how B2B marketing is changing its approach as well. It’s going to be an interesting subject, I think.


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