CMO-CIO & Marketing Technology | Think beyond the “OWNERSHIP”

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Marketing Technologyluxury-bus Information TechnologyThere is so much being spoken and written about the relationship between a CMO & a CIO that it almost appears to be an “organizational” issue instead of a functional or a capability gap that exists within the respective organizational buckets, especially around “TECHNOLOGY”.  On one hand, the marketing organization wants control on technology to bring change and deliver consumer experiences at lightening speed (and you can’t blame them), something that is imminent to respond to the digital consumer while the IT organizations try to tighten the grip to prevent the obvious digital disruption and chaos, something that is very contradictory to how information technology has evolved over decades. I want to take a step back and recap why we are here and what’s driving this dramatic shuffling. Is this really about organizational structures and boundaries or if it is a Behavioral & Cultural gap in the way we have traditionally leveraged technology to deliver “experiences”.

Ok, so the basics – what in the world is triggering this shuffling and why all the fuss?

Very simply, digital has forever changed consumer behaviour and has led to the convergence of the offline and online world. To become a successful and cutting edge brand builder in a digital world, organizations need a new approach to deliver frictionless consumer experiences as the consumer move seamlessly between the offline and online world engaging and transacting with brands across various channels. Today’s consumer is a Digital Consumer and she spends most of her time with digital media and technology available at her finger tips, in her kitchen or when she is driving, she is a consumer who is on the go all the time. This has transformed the notion of “Digital Marketing” to “Marketing in a Digital World”. Digital is no longer an island, it is now part of every planning process and this demands a completely new set of technologies that monitor consumer behavior in real time, data analytic skills to enable precise targeting, and platforms that engage consumers along the consumer journey across all channels and touch-points.

This has lead to the philosophy (am consciously calling this a PHILOSOPHY since it needs to be perceived and adopted as one and not just as a different set of technology stacks) of “Marketing Technology” (will referred to as MT in rest of the post) which is different from “Information Technology” not only in the kind of business problems it needs to solve but more importantly “HOW” they are solved and for me, that’s a bigger gap that exists between the two and the gap exists regardless of where the MT sits within any organization or what it is called.

BUT – why do we need MT and why not IT? Why complicate things?

Great question and I thought a lot about the “SIMPLEST” way to respond to this. I decided to sit back and just spit out everything that comes to my mind naturally when I say the word “Information Technology – IT” and “Marketing Technology MT”, and this is what I came up with:

IT vs MT

I recommend everyone to consider the 2 terms “Information Technology” and “Marketing Technology” not as physical teams, people or organizations but as sheer “functions” needed within our digital world – it will help in a better “COLLABORATION” instead of a sense of “COMPETITION”.

As you can see, both kinds of behaviors and mindsets have a place and a need. One focuses more on customer experience and speed while the other determines success based on quality, scale and robustness. It is impossible to question either of them. The challenge lies in identifying what is needed where and to solve what problem. The approach and mindset needed to solve supply chain and manufacturing automation challenges will absolutely not work to deliver optimized and personalized consumer experiences — just 2 distinct worlds even though it is all part of a broader “technology” spectrum.

I really like the “dirt race bike” & a top of the line “mercedez bus” analogy to prove the point, let’s play around 5 characteristics for both:

  • Both are modes of transportation BUT very different purposes. While one is focused on making a group of people reach from place A to place B in the most safe and comfortable manner while the other is all about “winning” the race, could be the most uncomfortable, bumpy and unsafe ride
  • One can never fall and rise – a failure means destruction while the other is meant to fail, fall and rise again albeit many times in a single journey
  • One is more effective when executed with many people while other wins with speed only achievable with 1 or at best 2 riders
  • One is reliable, tried & tested enough that it can take up new routes without trials while the other requires frequent testing, trials, analysis and changes to adjust to the dirt tracks and come up with the winning formula
  • Lastly, the same person sitting in the bus in the morning could very well be a dirt race biker in the evening but with a different gear, mindset & purpose

To close —- I strongly urge organizations, the CIOs & the CMOs to think beyond the “organizational boundaries”, to think beyond “who owns it”. The answer to that question is like a mud pit where you get stuck once and there is no looking back. Marketing Technology does not replace Information Technology, treat these as capabilities and functions needed to solve gaps and create opportunities in completely different worlds and marketplace. It requires a fundamental re-think, a new behavior and culture that put the customer and the experience in the center and not the technology that enables it.