CMOs and CIOs should join forces to win the mobile customer battle

Forrester senior advisor tells delegates at a IBM Connected Customer event that CMOs and CIOs must work collaboratively in the new age of customer obsession

CMOs and CIOs should form a joint ‘mobile council’ and pool their development efforts if they want to effectively tackle their customer’s mobile needs, according to one industry expert.

Speaking at IBM’s ‘The Connect Customer’ event in Sydney, Forrester senior advisor to CIOs, Tim Sheedy, compared the current state of mobile development to that of the Internet, where marketing teams initially controlled the website but increasingly required IT to deliver the back-end systems and support to meet customer demand and more interactive experiences.

“At present mobile apps are sitting in the marketing department but are not necessarily connected to those back-end systems,” he said. “IT meanwhile is already working on mobility. Those two strings of work are going on in parallel with very little touch.

“What you do with the customer’s trust when it comes to that device in their pocket will differentiate you from your competitors moving forward. Mobile is therefore an obvious area to bring IT and marketing together.”

Sheedy’s presentation focused on the importance of CMOs and CIOs working increasingly in partnership if they’re to succeed in the age of the customer. To do this, he identified people, process and technology as the three key elements in improving that working relationship and driving competitive advantage in the next digital decade.

The ‘people’ aspect should involve merging at least some of the IT and marketing teams and combining skill sets that drive customer experience. Sheedy recommended CIOs and CMOs focus on key joint areas, restructure or at least co-locate their teams, work on developing a core skills matrix, and have shared accountability around customer experience.

As an example, Sheedy pointed out the CIO and CMO of US-based retailer SuperValu now sit across a joint team, share budget responsibility, have adopted a matrix reporting style and embrace agile methodologies. At FedEx, the IT and marketing teams have co-located around the customer experience piece and jointly provide expertise to the rest of the freight company’s business units. This includes a joint ‘website experience war room’ where they monitor web and customer analytics with the aim of acting on any degradation of service before potential issues become a serious problem.

In the case of processes, Sheedy advised the c-level counterparts to embrace agile methods to speed, rethink their governance strategies, and plan for “fast failures”. On the technology front, the gap between IT and marketing lies around getting a single view of customers and interactions across all touchpoints.

“IT can’t do this alone – they need marketing’s support to analyse the customer requirements and do things at the speed those customers need or want,” Sheedy told delegates. “This also comes down to mastering the data flow and customer value.”

According to Sheedy, “customer obsessed” organisations are gaining the biggest competitive differentiator and that requires marketing and IT to join forces.

“Marketing needs to be heavily wedded to the IT department,” he added.

More on the CMO/CIO relationship:
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