Advice From IBM: Work Together or Become Irrelevant
Contributor: Mark Fidelman –
Few skilled positions, if any, are further apart than the CMO and CIO. The former is known for being creative and extroverted, the latter technical and introverted. Yet an IBM 2012 State of Marketing Survey concluded that this unlikely couple must learn to work together or their organization risks becoming less competitive. In other words, both CMO and CIO will increasingly become less effective apart – but more effective together.
“What’s becoming clear is that in order to stay relevant and remain competitive in today’s uber-digital and social world, the CIO and the CMO must work together. Today and in the future you’ll see this connection grow tighter than ever before,” said Jeff Schick, VP, Social Software.
But like any two people with opposing perspectives, common ground is hard to come by. Each must give a little to get along and timely communication must be made a priority.
But Schick believes technology can help ease the tension in the relationship, and they’ve developed a set of solutions called IBM web experience software technologies that help both the CMO and CIO agendas: “We’re addressing two big barriers for social business adoption: 1. managing the vast amount of available social data and 2. aligning teams across IT, marketing and communications to use this data and insights to better serve employees and customers.”
CIO + CMO + Social Technologies = Success
Working in the new social business world, I have been most struck by how few executives have emerged from the proverbial ivory tower. Most are still stuck in traditional roles working in traditional silos. Technical requests and changes made by CMOs to the CIO’s IT team are typically met with long delays or botched implementations. It’s usually not the fault of IT, they are inundated with requests and understaffed to handle them.
Schick believes IBM has created a solution to help alleviate the situation. They call it the IBM Customer Experience Suite (part of their web experience software technologies) which provides CMO’s with the ability to:
- Post rich media assets like images, videos, podcasts on the web, engaging with a variety of content to capture attention and drive further awareness/interest.
- Change content on the fly without having to engage IT. That will save time and enable Marketing to adapt to customer needs quickly.
- Track and monitor activity on a website. IBM makes websites adaptive, so that companies can customize offers, messaging, and content to increase traffic and convert visitors to customers.
- Synchronize information with all channels seamlessly, whether it’s a remote device, social media site such as Facebook or organization’s internet website.
IBM believes these four benefits will both help the CMO become more responsive to changing business conditions, while making the job of the CIO and IT less stressful. To get big things done now, CMOs and CIOs don’t need as many compromises, which means fewer implementations that are suboptimal. CMOs get what they need from IT because they are now an extension of IT.
Discussing these challenges with my executive friends, they are always quick to note that software won’t completely solve the Marketing and IT disconnect. There are simply too many of them. But in today’s more social world, many of these challenges call for marketing and IT to make the transition from Odd Couple to familiar couple without getting stuck in hostility.
Software will indeed help, but we need leaders who will strive to work together despite their differences. For a partnership that can only produce suboptimal results to critical challenges will, in time, render both irrelevant.
The software matters, in other words, but so do the relationships.