Customer focus can unify IT, marketing

'Marketing’s from Mars and IT’s from Venus,' but don't let that stop you, says American Express marketer

The CMO and CIO must align their teams and strategies to achieve customer centricity, according to marketers and IT officials.

Professionals from each business unit shared their views this week at the CMO – CIO Customer Experience breakfast forum hosted by CMO and CIO magazines and the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA).

“Marketing’s from Mars and IT’s from Venus,” said Jeffrey Evans, American Express head of global digital marketing (pictured). To work well together, the CMO and the CIO must learn to speak the same language, he said.

There is often an impasse when marketing asks IT what’s possible with technology and IT replies by asking what marketing wants, he said. But the real, unifying question is to ask what the customer wants, he said.

The CMO and CIO should realise they are “in it together,” advised Deloitte CIO, Tim Fleming, during a panel session. “We are both stewards of the data around our customers and therefore the customer experience.”

Related: CMO-CIO partnership key in digital customer engagements

CMOs and CIOs still don't understand each other, finds Accenture report

It’s important to “take a collective view” of the organisation rather than act in silos, agreed fellow panellist and Stockland general manager of group marketing, Ben Allen. Listening to the customer voice must be a priority, he said.

Daniel Johnson has led IT at Sydney Opera House for six years as head of information systems. He said his experience in the past had been that IT – when acting in isolation – was seen by other business units as the “stopper”.

That has changed since Anna Reid joined the performing arts venue as director of marketing in September last year. Reid and Johnson said they brought their teams together with a fresh focus on transforming the customer experience, and have also introduced several new roles to build digital and data capabilities that will help drive a more customer-first focus.

Johnson said the simple act of talking with Reid has kept IT and marketing on the same page.

“It sounds like it should be easy, but it is actually quite difficult,” Reid said. One thing that helped was assigning a marketing representative to communicate with Johnson’s team, she said.

From the IT side, Johnson said an initial challenge was changing the attitude of his team, which had previously been absorbed in implementing and maintaining technology.

“It’s changing that mindset to be more customer focused, be much more flexible, and understanding what [marketing’s] goals are for customers and making sure that we are aligned together in that path,” he said.

One recent project where Reid’s and Johnson’s teams worked together was using technology to help customers find their way around the Sydney Opera House. Heritage building rules that limit the amount of signage the Opera House can display have required clever solutions.

“We have this invisible force field when people come onto the site and walk up to the Opera House – they have no idea where to go ... and what to do when they get there. So we have this amazing need for technology to be able to help people navigate their way around the House,” Reid said.

“IT and marketing are working together to get the right technology to have that happen and then to really use the data to improve the customer experience.”

This kind of alignment between IT and marketing is critical for any organisation, said Evans.

“It’s actually a lot easier to achieve an objective when you’re heading in the same direction,” he added.

Check out the pictorial highlights from the 'Engineering the new customer experience' event held by CMO, CIO and ADMA in Sydney on 22 May.

Adam Bender covers digital marketing and wearable computing for CMO and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments
cmo-xs-promo

Latest Videos

More Videos

Thanks for your feedback, Rabi. While we introduced the ROO concept using a marketing example, I also believe that it is pertinent to man...

Iggy Pintado

Introducing Return on Outcome (ROO) - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Thanks for your insight, Philip. Return On Outcome (ROO) requires balanced thinking with the focus on outcomes as opposed to returns.

Iggy Pintado

Introducing Return on Outcome (ROO) - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Beautiful article.

Hodlbaba

15 brands jumping into NFTs

Read more

"Blue" is really gorgeous and perfectly imitates a human customer support operator. Personally, I won't order a chatbot development for m...

Nate Ginsburg

Why the newest member of BT’s contact centre is a chatbot

Read more

As today’s market changes rapidly, the tools we use change, and it is important to adapt to those changes to continue to succeed in busin...

Anna Duda

Report: 10 digital commerce trends here to stay

Read more

Blog Posts

How the pandemic revealed the antidote to marketing’s image problem

What does marketing truly ‘own’ in most organisations? Brand and campaigns, definitely. Customer experience? That remains contested ground.

Murray Howe

Founder, The Markitects

Still pursuing a 360-degree view of the customer?

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” It may have been true in 1993 when this caption to a Peter Steiner cartoon appeared in the New Yorker. But after 30 years online, it’s no longer the case.

Agility in 2022

Only the agile will survive and thrive in this environment and that’s why in 2022, agility will need to be a whole-business priority.

Sam McConnell

Melbourne bureau chief, Alpha Digital

Sign in