A CIO-CMO Disconnect: Answers

Recap: A CIO who’s strategic about marketing—When Rocket Toys CMO Emilio Carbone sets a goal, he wants to move on it now. For this reason, cloud-based tools are Carbone’s go-to solution when he requires technology to support Rocket’s marketing. Carbone’s tactical approach to technology has created data and operational silos both within the marketing organization and between marketing and such customer-facing groups as customer service and sales.

CIO Robin Frye knows that if she and Carbone were to collaborate, he would continue to get what he needs quickly, while the company’s long-term strategies would improve. Carbone, however, rebuffs Frye’s offers to assist him with technology selection. Frye is struggling to find the right approach to gaining Carbone’s collaboration.

Click here to read the complete challenge.

September winner: Adele Sweetwood, VP, Americas marketing and support, SAS

Telling a CMO to put your “big boy pants on and deal with it” probably won’t have the desired effect, so Frye should ask herself two questions and be brutally honest:

1. Does marketing trust IT? If not, why not?

2. What value does IT provide to marketing?

Lack of trust grows from the sense that you’re not being heard or understood. Fixing the rift takes more than changing perceptions—it’s time to upend practice.

Frye should offer one of her top managers a marketing liaison position. By joining meetings and learning the business of marketing, IT can proactively meet marketing’s needs. As a first step they might suggest a meaningful collaboration to demonstrate value. Let’s be honest: If Frye had pitched marketing automation to Carbone rather than the reverse, she’d be holding the reins.

But with alternative paths ever more available, does marketing really need IT? What can IT do for marketing? For starters, I doubt any marketing organization, flying solo, has access to and views of all customer data. This is usually the purview of IT. So, while Carbone may think he is delivering a holistic customer experience through dynamic offers, and analytically driven decisions, he may be wrong. He needs better data, and more of it.

Frye needs to show Carbone the research that proves the benefits when IT and marketing collaborate. There is plenty from which to choose. Accenture’s report is a good roadmap of how a CMO-CIO alliance can build customer loyalty and unparalleled advocacy. An Aberdeen study found that 40% of best-in-class companies use data-driven marketing.

IT is invaluable in providing quality data management to fuel this. IT and marketing can work together or they can ignore each other. Which would improve the customer experience and increase revenue? That is one question that the CEO needs to ask both of them.

Other responses:

  • David Brown, EVP, MXM

Carbone’s desire to go solo could be for a few reasons. First, he may be over-simplifying the technical challenges that lie ahead. Second, he may be frustrated by being slowed down by the CIO. Third, there may be a need to justify headcount.

Frye should help Carbone think through how their boss, the CEO, would want them to operate. The CEO has invested in them both because of their expertise, and will expect the highest levels of collaboration. Anything less would likely push this assignment into the growing pile of failed technology implementations in the marketing world.

Frye must get from Carbone a clearly defined set of business requirements that explain the need for marketing automation software. These business requirements need to be signed off on by each department head that is affected.

Then Frye should get ahead of Carbone’s need. She must develop a robust approach to evaluate all the options for marketing automation software that’s right for their business, offers a scalable infrastructure that supports the company’s needs into the medium-term, and works for their budget. Additionally, Frye should assign someone from her team to become the go-to expert in marketing automation options. That person can then train and support Carbone’s team on how to become expert users of the tool, once implemented.

  • Jeff Zwelling, CEO and cofounder, Convertro

CIOs and CMOs need to learn to work together to reap the greatest benefits. Frye should explain that she wants to help Carbone with this technical endeavor. She should applaud Carbone for recognizing and understanding the value of technology in increasing a company’s capabilities and efficiencies.

Frye should explain to Carbone that it’s great that he’s recognizing the benefits of technology, which she as a CIO has always known to be true. With her expertise, she can help him make the best decisions. She can explain that since he’ll be spending more of his budgets on IT she should get involved in these decisions, as Carbone will be exposed to new challenges and obstacles that Frye can help him work through.

Frye needs to understand that Carbone’s initiative to use quantitative data in the decision-making process should make her feel more comfortable with his decisions. Frye can still offer to help, but she also needs to recognize that Carbone is moving in that direction.

Ultimately, the CIO and CMO should have the same goal: doing what’s best for the company. So they need to unite in that effort. It’s not the CMO’s or the CIO’s spend on technology; it’s the company’s spend on innovation and improvement.

  • Kurt Andersen, EVP of sales enablement and marketing, SAVO

Customers and prospects often are making choices based on experiences with the sales or customer service teams. Frye understands this trend, but it’s clear that Carbone either does not or is unwilling to acknowledge it when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

So, Frye’s approach should be twofold:

1. She should assign a team to take stock of all the technologies in use at Rocket Toys, being sure to focus on the tools used by sales and customer service. The team should determine which solutions can integrate with one another, along with what tools see the most use and success, and develop a retirement plan for those that don’t fit.

2. Frye should present this plan to Carbone with a detailed roadmap for implementing any new tools. Carbone obviously responds to quick ROI, so Frye must appeal to his sense of action. Instead of offering to help select a marketing automation tool, she should pick one she knows will work and demonstrate how it can be quickly deployed and integrated to capitalize on what’s already generating revenue. Carbone wants goals met, and through system integration goals can be tracked and tied back to specific actions taken in the field.

  • Alex Lustberg, CMO, Lyris

Carbone feels the need for speed—not just today, but tomorrow and every day. As a result, he’s moved quickly to purchase and deploy diverse applications to manage customer and prospect interactions in every channel. However, because the relationship between Carbone and his customers is increasingly mediated by digital systems, automation and coordination of those systems is essential. Deploying a new marketing automation system in its own silo, without consideration of critical workflow and data integration needs, risks creating a disconnected customer experience and puts Carbone’s hard-earned success at risk.

This is Carbone’s blind spot and Frye’s opportunity to show how she can help accelerate marketing success with a platform-based approach that enables customer-centric campaign planning, testing, execution, and measurement across channels. Specifically, Frye should propose a digital marketing integration platform that will allow Rocket Toys to access all marketing functionality available across its marketing automation and other existing systems and empower Carbone and his team to orchestrate business logic and data flows that will deliver timely and meaningful engagement across every touchpoint. The relevance of messages will increase while the time and cost of delivering new capabilities will decrease.

  • Carlos Miranda Durand, revenue science fellow, FedEx

Here are my suggestions for Frye:

Proactively develop and socialize a vision. It would be ideal if Carbone is open to collaborate, so it’s great that Frye started there. But even if he isn’t open, it’s Frye’s responsibility as CIO to develop short-and long-term IT architecture visions and socialize them with key stakeholders. Frye needs to create a burning platform illustrating the current state with all its limitations. Then she needs to show a future-state vision with the benefits that it will bring to the company, as well as the requirements and implications and a high-level roadmap. Frye should take the initiative and task her team to evaluate various marketing automation tools. She could then propose a few concrete alternatives that fit well in the future state.

Engage all key stakeholders, not just the CMO. The IT vision needs to be shared with Carbone and also with the CEO, sales leadership, customer service leadership, operations, finance, and other relevant influencers. Meet with each stakeholder and incorporate their inputs. The IT strategy should not exist in the vacuum, but be informed by the business strategy. It needs to become a “shared vision.”

Map the motivations. Highlight the implications that each stakeholder will find most relevant. For the CMO, time to market is paramount and Frye needs to speak to that point. For finance it may be the cost of purchasing the software, integrating it with the rest of company systems, and maintaining all those interfaces/platforms over the next five years. The message needs to be tailored to the audience.

Lead with patience and determination. The company isn’t going to change in one day or after one project. So don’t give up if it takes time for some people to understand and buy in to the vision; continue to engage with them one day at a time. This is a long-term endeavor.

  • Tom Wentworth, CMO, Acquia

Rocket Toys is likely to run into problems that will inhibit the agility of Carbone’s marketing team to make the most of the firm’s digital assets, marketing tools, and data. Carbone’s looking for agility; that’s why he’s trying to move fast in the first place. But his marketing department could suffer if he doesn’t engage with Frye and consider the potential long-term consequences of this technology choice. Speed now may hinder speed in the future for a wider array of digital marketing projects.

Carbone is likely not without options, but issues of integration and scalability need to be his priority too, not just Frye’s. It’s actually hard to imagine that Carbone’s willing to bring in another system without consideration of available integrations and open APIs. There are many systems that help a marketing organization run, and CMOs need to be vested in maximizing those investments. Though many CMOs already do, CIOs can actually take this a step further by teaching their colleagues who are in other leadership areas about the importance of open, flexible systems.

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