From CMOs and CIOs to CeXOs: technology and marketing are becoming bedfellows

The phenomenon of digital disruption is driving constant change in virtually every aspect of organisational strategy and implementation. Nowhere is this brought more sharply into focus than in a company’s relationship with its increasingly empowered and discerning consumers. 

Exponential growth of the internet and the proliferation of mobile devices, social media, cloud and powerful new data analysis tools have created a modern-day consumerism that has never been experienced before. The marketplace is now global and the expectations of New Zealand consumers are shaped by access to the best in the world.

Creating compelling and seamless customer experiences today requires marketing insight, well-informed creative thinking and the ability to deliver tailored services and products. Achieving this increasingly relies on having agile and robust technology systems and processes as well as an environment that enables exploration of ideas and new and improved services.

This points clearly to the need for a closely integrated relationship between marketing and technology leaders within organisations. However, observations of companies in Australasia suggest that, in fact, the opposite appears to be occurring. 

Evidence points to the fact that fewer chief marketing officers in this part of the world see collaboration with chief information officers as important for their companies’ growth through customer service excellence.

This is contrary to the global trend and CMOs are reportedly frustrated by what they see as a siloed approach to IT. This legacy approach is making it hard for them to introduce digital innovations quickly enough to beat competitors to market or meet customers’ expectations. Increasingly, their response is to commission the technology services they require from third-party providers.

CIOs are experiencing similar frustration. From their perspective CMOs do not understand the complexities of integrating new data sets into corporate IT systems. They point to issues that arise when marketing teams bypass IT to work directly with vendors.

There is however common ground between CMOs and CIOs. They are both struggling to manage the multi-channel experience – providing a relevant, real-time and consistent service for customers across a range of contact points such as stores, call centres, websites, social and mobile apps.

The standard response to this issue to date has been for many organisations to create new roles that strengthen their capabilities in digital marketing. Among the many new titles emerging are chief digital officer, chief data officer and chief marketing technologist. The latter title, in particular, has been described in the Harvard Business Review as “part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader and part teacher”.

An increasingly compelling alternative to this approach is to step up to another level by creating the position of chief experience officer or CeXO.  This role is designed to be instrumental in coordinating marketing and IT, along with other parts of the business, with a single-minded focus on the quality of the customers’ experience rather than a concern for internal service lines and strategies.

The CeXO leverages the knowledge held by marketing and IT teams and incorporates their expertise and strategies to take a human-centred approach to designing customer experiences. The role acts as adjudicator in many of the difficult areas that bridge IT and marketing, including how customer data is collected, stored and used, and the related privacy, customer satisfaction, service and convenience questions that commonly arise.

Investment in a CeXO ultimately delivers a better customer experience and, consequently, improved customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. It also has the potential to create new revenue streams and leapfrog competitors.

There is clear evidence that a closer working relationship between CMOs and CIOs delivers results. Creating the CeXO position serves as a powerful catalyst for that to happen quickly and effectively.

  • Michael Buckley is the Accenture interactive lead for New Zealand and Australia. 

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