The digital economy is fundamentally changing how businesses design and optimize customer experiences, leading to changes in the way organizational teams collaborate.

Alignment between the CMO and CIO is important

In this environment, alignment between the chief marketing officer (CMO) and chief information officer (CIO) is critical for helping organizations create customer-focused approaches to digital transformation aimed at bolstering growth.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has taken away a marketer’s option of generating business and leads from face-to-face types of events. While they are still going on, they are way less frequent, have lower attendance and have a hit-and-miss ROI for marketers.

Due to this, CMOs are turning more towards virtual events, digital marketing and other methods of getting in front of their audience. The effectiveness of the technology marketing stack is key to being successful in the post-pandemic era.

The pandemic has forced marketing and IT to work together, shrinking the collaboration gap, while also revealing new opportunities for CMOs and CIOs to align their teams to accelerate digital transformation, especially around hybrid commerce.

Marketing approaches must shift

“The reinvention of the marketing side of the business–marketing digital transformation–requires a significant shift in how we approach marketing,” explained Tyler Shields, CMO at JupiterOne, a provider of cyber asset management and governance solutions. “CMOs are taking major sections of the operational side of the business and creating less face-to-face and more modern digital approaches to execution.”

He noted specifically, experiences that would have previously been in-person social events have transformed into unique virtual events that provide interesting value in a fully virtual environment.

“To achieve this, the CMO has to work very closely with the CIO and the IT team to acquire, configure and operationalize an entirely new group of technologies,” he said.

CMOs can focus on developing top-tier experiences, with CIOs contributing the technical and data expertise to identify business and customer needs.

Working closely together, the CIO and CMO can accelerate creation and delivery of better customer experiences everywhere while reinforcing customer data security and digital systems stability.

John Morgan, CEO at Confluera, a cloud security solutions, said the demands on the marketing team and CMOs continue to focus on building a strong brand and connecting with new prospects as key drivers.

“However, as businesses focus on subscription and renewal-based business, more focus must go into increasing customer satisfaction and better user experiences to reduce customer churn,” he said. “To achieve these goals there must be tight alignment between the CMO, CIO, as well as support organization.”

Marketing and IT must form a cross-functional relationship

From Morgan’s perspective, marketing and IT teams must develop a cross-functional relationship that inspires innovation, business growth and prepares the organization for future disruptions to the status quo.

“Traditionally, marketing and IT have not collaborated extensively and for the most part operated independently,” he said, pointing out marketing seeks backend support from IT on projects that have been kicked off.

The IT department then alerts marketing on any networking and security issues that violate existing policy.

“This mode of operating will be the biggest hurdle for organizations. Before marketing sets out on new digital projects, they need IT’s voice and advice,” Morgan said. “IT also needs to be able to adjust and evolve their network and security policies in support of new tools and processes.”

He said one best practice is to establish regular meetings and a forum to share ideas across the two teams.

“Alignment should be at the business level, customer renewals, growth, brand awareness, efficiency, and security; pick metrics that make the most sense and align on them as well-defined outcomes,” he said.

Shields added the CMO cannot just rely on their IT team to provide the technology to operate in a post-pandemic world, noting the CMO and their digital team must understand and deep dive into the technology required to transform the marketing side of the business.

“It’s not just implementation that is difficult, but also understanding the results of the marketing technology stack and how it impacts the operational business metrics–leads, MQLs, contacts, deals, and so on–must be studied by the marketing leaders, not just the IT team,” he said. “You have to work together to maximize the return on the technology investment.”

Morgan said it’s also important to ensure that the systems, networks, databases, datasets, and any analytics used in the digital transformation to increase user satisfaction, or to identify new prospects, are not socially biased.

“While marketing creates brand messaging, uses unbiased vocabulary and targets the right demographics to grow the business, the IT organization must also be equally unbiased with choices of analytics and algorithms that may be used to inspect the large data being harvested,” he said.

He called the current shift in marketing to find new ways of reaching their audience “unprecedented” and warned that as new tools and processes are being explored, it’s easy for organizations to become overly enthusiastic to kick off the project, only to miss opportunities to collaborate with other organizations.

“Rather than assessing new tools and processes based on marketing metrics, they have an opportunity to involve the CIO and other technology teams to help with the vetting and research process,” Morgan said. “Rather than having other teams simply support the marketing direction, include them in the process early on so they can guide the marketing direction.”