CIOs and CMOs still struggle to deliver integrated digital marketing despite narrowing gap

Chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) say they are working more collaboratively than in the past to take advantage of digital opportunities, but they remain at odds on a number of issues involving how to drive integrated digital marketing solutions for their customers, according to a new study by Accenture.

The study, Cutting Across the CMO-CIO Divide, which was conducted by Accenture Interactive, is based on a survey of more than 1,100 senior marketing and IT executives around the globe. A key report finding indicates a growing collaboration between CMOs and CIOs – 43% of marketers and 50% of IT leaders think their relationship with the other has improved over the past year. Also, nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents believe collaboration between the two teams is currently at the right level, up substantially from last year’s CMO-CIO Insights survey that stated only one in 10 respondents felt collaboration was at the right level.

Even though the marketing and information technology teams appear to be working more closely together, the survey highlights many challenges still facing the two groups that can impact a positive experience for customers and the company’s bottom line.

> See also: CIO turned CMO leads data-driven marketing at IG

‘All members of the C-suite, particularly CMOs and CIOs, understand the need to collaborate as they transform their businesses into digital businesses,’ said Mike Sutcliff, group chief executive, Accenture Digital. ‘But in order to ensure the success of digital marketing campaigns, and the company’s overall digital strategy, the marketing and IT functions must realize that digital is driving a new wave of collaboration as marketing becomes increasingly enabled by technology.’

Agreement on marketing IT, while other conflicts increase

According to the report, marketing and IT departments are aligned on the importance of marketing IT as more than half of respondents rank it at or near the top of their priority lists (52% and 53% respectively). Both parties also agree on the top five marketing IT priorities: customer experience, customer analytics, social media, corporate website, and other web development.

While this alignment exists, other challenges persist. For example, 40% of CMOs believe their company’s IT team does not understand the urgency of integrating new data sources into campaigns to address market conditions – an increase of six percentage points from last year’s survey. Additionally, 43% of CMOs now say that the technology development process is too slow for the speed required for digital marketing, compared to 36% who held that view a year ago.

For their part, CIOs are increasingly frustrated by shifting goals and a perceived lack of vision from their marketing counterparts. More than four out of 10 (43%) of IT executives said that marketing requirements and priorities change too often for them to keep up, an increase of three percentage points from last year’s survey. Also, one out of four CIOs (25%) now believe that CMOs lack the vision to anticipate new digital channels, compared to just 11% who expressed that view last year.

‘Getting this relationship right is critical for delivering seamless, omni-channel experiences for customers,’ said Brian Whipple, senior managing director of Accenture Interactive.

‘The CMO needs to develop a vision and strategy for how customers experience the brand while the CIO needs to deliver the tools and technology to bring those experiences and campaigns to life. Together, they need combined processes and perhaps even organizations to make this happen. If one works without the other in a silo, customers will feel the impact and switch brands.’

Execution and multi-channel obstacles

More than half (54%) of CMOs and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of CIOs report they are prepared to pursue digital marketing opportunities, but they also believe they face significant challenges in executing on their strategies. More than two out of five of all respondents (44%) said they have encountered problems in implementing marketing solutions or IT projects that further marketing effectiveness, up from 36% who reported problems a year ago. For CIOs, that figure rises to 45% (an increase of nine percentage points from last year), and for CMOs, it jumps to 42% (an increase of six percentage points from last year).

In addition, senior marketers and IT leaders alike are struggling to get the multi-channel experience right, as they follow their customers who are using mobile devices more often. More than four out of 10 (42%) of CIOs and CMOs say that technology is siloed and too cumbersome, which makes it difficult for them to craft cross-channel experiences for their customers, and this figure represents an increase of eight percentage points from last year.

Although 43% of CIOs believe it is important to develop a consistent and relevant cross-channel experience, 45% say the complexity of channel-specific experiences precludes them from being able to provide one platform to manage it.

CMOs and CIOs seek talent to drive digital initiatives

More and more, top executives in IT and marketing are seeking employees who are cross-trained in marketing and IT. Specifically, they are looking for people with backgrounds in marketing knowledge in IT (43%), customer experience skills (42%), customer insight  skills (40%) and a broad business understanding (42%)

Steps to improve digital effectiveness

The study suggests four actions CMOs and CIOs should take to strengthen their alignment, pursue customer relevance at scale, and improve business performance. These are investing time in establishing a digital vision and collaborating with each other to bring the vision to life; unifying around the customer experience to create a truly digital business; rethinking the operating model to integrate customer-focused skills throughout the company; and orienting a marketing model and budget that aligns with a new ecosystem of marketing services

> See also: CMOs vs CIOs: why can’t we be friends?

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...