CMOs, CIOs increasingly see chief customer officer as relationship saviour

New report from Accenture Interactive on the ongoing challenges of the CMO/CIO relationship sees both IT and marketing looking to a newly emerging chief experience officer role as key to alignment and engagement

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CMOs and CIOs are increasingly turning to the emerging role of chief experience officer to foster greater collaboration and integration between marketing and technology.

According to the latest Accenture Interactive survey, Cutting Across the CMO-CIO Divide: Digital drives a new wave of collaboration, 35 per cent of Australian CMOs and 25 per cent of CIOs say the creation of a ‘CeXO’ role was a priority for improving collaboration across the two functions.

The position was described as potentially a board-level role that owned the customer, with responsibility for a combined team spanning customer-facing IT, marketing, product development, sales and customer service.

Core benefits cited in creating such as role include delivering better products and services, improving customer service, driving brand value, loyalty and advocacy, and increasing revenue growth and cost and performance transparency.

The fourth annual Accenture report into the CIO-CMO relationship also found fewer Australian CMOs see IT as a strategic marketing partner than do CIOs (45 per cent versus 61 per cent). This compared with global results of 83 per cent and 69 per cent, respectively.

Key reasons for collaboration between IT and marketing cited by respondents were the rise of digital marketing, access to customer insight and intelligence for competitive advantage, and digital transformation.

In addition, a smaller number of CMOs saw collaboration with the CIO as important in driving company growth through customer service excellence in comparison to last year (63 per cent, down from 67 per cent in 2013).

Related: CMOs and CIOs still don’t trust each other, finds Accenture report
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Only 12 per cent of Australian CMOs said the amount of collaboration is currently at the right level, compared to 17 per cent of CIOs, while 32 per cent of CMOs said more was needed. This compared with 35 per cent of CIOs.

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The ongoing battle to bring IT and marketing into alignment was also prevalent in the survey results. For example, 53 per cent of CMOs said they were taking control of their marketing IT requirements and isolating them from CIOs. This included commissioning technology services from third-party providers.

The Australian figure contrasted with a global average of just 21 per cent, which was also found to be declining year-on-year. Among the core frustrations for marketing chiefs is that technology is siloed and too difficult to use to craft cross-channel experiences.

Nearly two-thirds of Australian CIOs, meanwhile, were frustrated CMOs didn’t understand the complexities of integrating new data sets into corporate IT systems. This compared with a global average of 49 per cent.

One-third of local IT leaders also said one of the biggest reasons marketing IT implementation issues arose was because marketing teams bypassed IT to work directly with vendors.

Despite this, both functions share views on core areas of marketing technology investment such as customer experience, social media, customer analytics and the corporate website.

CMOs and CIOs also agreed they are struggling to manage multi-channel customer experiences in order to provide real-time, relevant and consistent services to customers across all channels from digital to in-store.

When it comes to how to approach better collaboration, there was some discrepancy. Top priorities for CMOs included establishing a digital marketing function with IT and marketing resources; establishing a CeXO role; establishing a strong CEO mandate and governance structure; and aligning CMO/CIO goals, KPIs, budgets and objectives.

For CIOs, top priorities were establishing a strong CEO mandate and governance structure; training marketing and IT together in emerging marketing technologies and platforms; co-locating marketing and IT teams; and creating an IT lead within marketing and a marketing lead in IT.

The 2014 CMO-CIO Alignment survey is the fourth annual study conducted by Accenture into the impact of digital disruption on IT and marketing executives and their relationship. The latest Australian survey was based on responses from 100 marketing and IT decision makers.

5 key steps to making the CeXO role work

  1. Firm leadership support
  2. Vision and planning
  3. Aligned KPIs with the CMO and CIO
  4. Collaborative mindset
  5. Cross-discipline insight

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