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IBM encourages CMO, CIO interaction

IBM urged CMOs and CIOs to work together to enhance customer engagement on a digitally-driven playing field. The company made the appeal in a September 7 announcement about new methodologies, tools, and management exercises as part of its slew of services designed to support collaboration between the C-suite executives.

According to Adam Klaber, managing partner of IBM global industries and growth initiatives for IBM Global Business Services (GBS), IBM’s new service, powered by IBM Interactive, centers around IBM’s four “i”s: digital, mobile, social, and online channel interaction; big data and analytical information; cross channel integration; and innovating new products and services. The new offerings are part of IBM’s GBS Smarter Commerce practice.

Klaber notes that the lack of communication between marketers and traditionally “back-office” technologists can cause marketers to become stuck in their own customer engagement systems instead of integrating with their company’s technological advancements.

“With the advancements of technology—with mobile technologies, with social technologies, with big data, and with cloud computing—those two islands can no longer live separately,” Klaber says. “You absolutely need technologists, but you absolutely need strong representation of the voice of the customer, which comes from the marketing teams.” He adds that companies now need an approach to implementing technologies that’s iterative, incorporating testing and development over time.

“Bringing CMOs and CIOs together into a conversation versus targeting them individually…is a differentiator when we look at other service providers,” Klaber says.

IBM began to push CMO/CIO engagement after bringing on Virginia “Ginni” Rometty as its new CEO and conducting its 2011 CMO study, which surveyed more than 1,700 CMOs from companies such as ING and Intercontinental Hotel Group. Respondents cite data explosion, social media, the abundance of channels and devices, and consumer demographic shifts as their top four challenges.

Klaber says that IBM primarily works with a number of industries to expand digital presence and customer engagement, including telecommunication businesses, travel and hospitality organizations, and U.S. healthcare. However, Klaber notes that interlinking marketing and technology at the CMO/CIO level is a global need.

“Is this is solely a U.S. phenomenon? The answer is absolutely not,” he says. “Within the emerging markets where the advancement of mobile technology is so much higher, we’re seeing a significant ramp up of this and this need. This is not just a U.S. piece of what we’re dealing with.”

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