CMO-CIO Story: A Glimpse into the Future of Marketing and Digital Transformation

By Mitesh Kothari, Right Brain, White Rivers Media.

A new commodity spawns lucrative, fast-growing, advanced economies. A century ago, the commodity in question was oil. Today, it is DATA. 

In this data-led, algorithmic world, we are witnessing a variety of disruptors that are not following the traditional routes of business. Netflix, AirBnB, Uber, Alibaba are the poster boys of digital disruption, forcing not just businesses but even industries globally to embrace Digital Transformation as the new norm to compete in the world, that is on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

However, digital transformation isn't so much an IT project as the future of businesses. Technology is an enabler of digital transformation and technology along with data and strategy drives business transformation.  Managing this scale, scope and complexity posed by the 4th Industrial Revolution should be amongst top leadership priorities of the C-level suite and requires strategic partnership specifically between the CIO and CMO. 

Traditionally these roles come from different perspectives. CIOs are often regarded as the tech stewards, responsible for evaluating and implementing technological solutions while the CMOs are considered as the masters of consumer experience data, leading marketing initiatives that engage with customers and drive revenue.

However, as the world moves beyond the information age and steps into the experiential age, it’s time for the two to transform from ‘doing digital’ to ‘being digital’ together. It may be an unconventional marriage, but it’s one that CMOs and CIOs need to make work, especially as the volume of data is growing with ever-increasing variety and velocity. 

In today’s consumer-led era, CMOs are challenged to engage with consumers in innovative ways. Traditional marketing needs to transform in order to engage with a networked consumer. The new age of digital marketing is driven by data, made relevant through personalization and advances through analytics. A collaboration between marketing and IT to test digital marketing hubs, practice automation, pilot experiments with augmented reality (AR), implement artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is a must

In the realms of IT, the role of a CIO will become increasingly complex as technologies are evolving faster than ever and with it, the customer expectations. The traditional IT roles of gatekeeping, project management, technology architecture should transform with cloud computing, consumerization of IT and mitigating brand risks posed by cyber threats. Therefore, innovations should be favoured over operations. The disruptive era demands a CIO who is open to experiments, welcoming towards collaboration, able to ideate and serve delightful customer experience.  

Digital, social and mobile technologies have forever altered the way brands are interacting with consumers. There is a shift from mass marketing to Engagement Marketing – a shift from talking at people, or focusing on transactions, to engaging with people. Together, CIO and CMO with marketing and tech can build meaningful, life-long and individual relationships by creating personalized digital experiences, best suited for an individual’s unique needs. This is the future of marketing.

However, an ever-increasing and easily accessible technological solutions to attract and engage with consumers reduce CMO’s dependence on IT. But it can be challenging for marketers to know whether they're making a sound investment. That's where the CIO can help. Together, they can create a shared vision for their MARTECH stack and the objectives they want to achieve with it. 

The time to strike is now.  By cleverly merging business objectives and tech innovations, CIOs and CMOs can work together to create a holistic approach to digital transformation and unique customer experiences.



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