Chief marketing officers are becoming chief technology officers in a way. That’s because marketing and tech are more entwined than ever before. In fact, the chief marketing officer will soon control more tech spending than the chief information officer.

According to a new IBM survey of marketers, the formula for success is a closer partnership between the CMO and CIO departments. The survey found that 60 percent of marketers point to their lack of alignment with the company’s IT department as the biggest obstacle to reaching today’s consumers. With Gartner predicting that the CMO will spend more than the CIO on IT by 2017, it will be imperative for these two sides to form an alliance to ensure that these marketing investments meet their promises.

Yuchun Lee, vice president of IBM’s enterprise marketing management group, explains the implications for brands.

What was the key finding of the study as it pertains to brands?
The underpinning finding was that the changing job of the CMO is now widely recognized. But the core strategy of how to proceed forward is not well understood. We found that 60 percent of CMOs are not aligned with IT, when that is the biggest factor for success. The top-performing organizations have a marriage of CMO and CIO. CMOs stated that the biggest challenges they face in digital are mobile and social.

What are the implications for brands?
The implication is that the changing world of marketing needs a coordinated effort inside of the organization. It means changing a company’s way of doing business to become more customer-centric. Collaboration is key.

Based on the study, what are your recommendations for brands?
Reaching a partnership, a unified vision of how to proceed going forward, is what needs to be done. First, it’s about data. Marketers are in the business of understanding customers and being more relevant. And you can’t do that without data. Brands need a holistic data strategy. That’s the only way they can be more relevant and more personalized. Working with IT can help a brand ensure it has a better system in place, with larger puzzle pieces instead of a lot of a little ones. Change the process to build out engagement in an incremental fashion.

How should brands go about aligning their marketing with IT?
Do an assessment, and benchmark against competitors. Look at different aspects and how the organization is doing there. So, how well are we understanding our customers? Then use that data to take relevant action. It’s a gap analysis. Then we need a road map on process, technology and organizational changes, if needed. This should be a joint presentation to the CEO, by the CMO and CIO. And from there is a path forward that is incremental. Each stage of the progression should have a positive return.

What should marketers be doing to link insight to action for online visitor data?
The key here, again, is understanding what is relevant to individuals. That means analyzing the data to bring insight to action. Past purchase behavior is important, but so is user intent. Get a holistic view of each customer, and personalize communications based on that.

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