3 Areas to Partner with CMOs to Drive Transformation and Digital Innovation

This article was originally published on CIO Review, July 20, 2017.

CIOs are often asked to help drive organizational transformation and digital innovation. The challenge is finding the right sponsors within an organization. Over the past several years, it’s increasingly the CMO who is the champion of digital and transformation. Why? Because the media and marketing landscape is more digital, fragmented, data rich, and competitive than ever. The modern battleground in marketing is for customer attention and to capture this, CMO’s have had to transform the way they, their teams, and agency partners work and the skills needed are more aligned to that of the CIO than ever before.

To succeed, a CIO led governance policy for customer identity data management is crucial.

  1. Internal and External Data
  2. Customer Identity
  3.  Omnichannel Experience

Internal and External Data

Effective marketing strategies should be built on business needs, defined from internal business data. CMOs are increasingly augmenting internal sources with 3rd party data. Many of these 3rd party data providers have value and application across an enterprise.

The most practical example is mobile location data. This is of increasing value to marketers as it’s now possible to use mobile device IDs to identify visits to your stores, your competitors, but also the journey taken to get there. This data is of value to marketers, because, in-part, it helps measure the success of marketing beyond sales. E.g. marketing drove the customer to the store, but if the customer didn’t purchase, what went wrong?

Mobile location data used by the CMO should be fed into other systems across the enterprise—your real estate team could use this to identity optimal store locations, your logistics and merchandising team can identify customer attributes which may result in new inventory choices, and your operations team can use this to influence staff/work plans. Suddenly data used by the CMO can be driving transformation elsewhere in your organization.

And mobile location data is just the beginning. Smart companies are leveraging Google Search Trends and analysis of content on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to predict trends before they are mainstream. The fact is CIOs and CMOs need to be having joint conversations around data.

Customer Identity

These days, the focus has shifted from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to Data Management Platforms (DMP). CRMs and DMPs all hinge on Customer Identity Management. Customer Identity Management is about ensuring completeness, quality and accuracy of customer data so that it can be leveraged in targeted marketing.

Google and Facebook have led the way in enabling marketers to onboard their own customer data to ensure better delivery of on-target messaging (as well as finding look-a-likes of your existing customers). Variously called “Customer Match” or “Audience Match,” to make the most use of these offerings you need a Customer Identity layer that includes not only the usual fields of first name, last name but also email address and sometimes social media account names.

To succeed, a CIO led governance policy for customer identity data management is crucial. Bringing together disparate systems such as POS, web, loyalty and customer service requires new-ways of thinking and working across an organization (including process for capturing data across customer touchpoints). The CMO can provide guidance on what customer data is needed and of value, the CIO can ensure there is a single-source of customer truth across an organization.

Omnichannel Experience

Customers are increasingly omnichannel and CMOs have had to be omnichannel marketers for several years already. What has blurred is the line between marketing and customer experience. Through social media, CMOs and marketing are at the coal face of hearing the expectations of the omnichannel customer. A promoted marketing post on Facebook can result in customer service enquiries from positive “Is this product in stock at store X?” To negative, “I went into store X and not only was in not in stock, but a staff member rudely told me…”. The CMO and their team need the ability to provide a seamless omnichannel experience in response.

An omnichannel experience means marketing now needs to be readily able to answer store inventory questions (integrated real-time inventory access), log an incident into a customer service system (along with the customer’s social media profile), and track the follow up and resolution. In some cases, this may require the marketing team passing customer interaction onto a different area in the organization. As CMO’s look to market to customers across an omnichannel experience, CMOs can provide CIOs with the insights on what systems and business systems need to be connected.

Working together extends beyond the customer omnichannel experience. CMOs and CIOs should work together on a joint understanding and implication of marketing and IT projects. Will a site upgrade result in new URLs? Paid search will need to be reviewed to ensure clicks land on valid landing pages. All of these lead to delivering the best omnichannel experience for customers and more sales for your organization.


The convergence of interests in data, technology and digital between the CIO and CMO can be the catalyst needed for organizations to drive digital and transformation needed to succeed. Boards looking to kickstart change should not only lean on their CIO, but look for CMOs who are not just marketing media professionals, but digital, data and technology professionals. When the CIO and CMO work together, not only will this improve your technology and marketing effectiveness, but your business results as well.

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