Bridging the CIO-CMO gap


This is a guest post by Peter Duffy, CTO, Sumerian

British consumers are increasingly bombarded with a constant stream of companies attempting to bring their latest deals and products to their customers’ fingertips.

This has fantastic implications for both parties involved, however in order to achieve this, those in the background must organise themselves and collaborate effectively.

With digital marketing expected to consume an extra 8% of IT budgets in 2015, both the CIO and CMO recognize the need for increased collaboration.

According to a recent Accenture survey, 83% of CIOs want to align and interact with CMOs, and 69% of CMOs feel the same way.

Although almost half of CMOs and CIOs believe their relationship has improved since 2013, there is still an operational gap to bridge. As it stands, 45% of CIOs agree that multi-channel marketing is too complex for one platform, while 42% of CMOs believe that technology is ‘siloed’ and too difficult to use for cross-channel experiences.

A good CMO is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to engage the customer, especially digitally, seeking to create compelling and dynamic digital engagement in order to support market leading multi-channel customer experiences.

This helps a company keep its competitive edge. However, the CMO can sometimes be so effective at this that it can temporarily plunge the IT Operations side of a company into chaos.

The annual shopping event Black Friday grabbed the headlines this past year for all the wrong reasons. Not only did we see shoppers reduced to savages in the face of reduced prices, there were also a number of major IT failures across the large retailers, resulting in losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

One example of this was Best Buy, who suffered two outages on Black Friday. Its IT infrastructure could not cope with the unprecedented mobile traffic, forcing the retailer to temporarily shut down its website in order to restore performance.

For a company to proactively cease online operations on the busiest shopping day of the year, the issue must be serious. This problem was not confined to the U.S., as we saw Tesco’s U.K. website go down as soon as its Black Friday deals were launched.

A number of retailers on Black Friday failed to plan properly for their potential IT needs. Having an unstructured approach to IT capacity planning can leave a company vulnerable, through a lack of accurate understanding of its present and future capacity, to outages, losing them money in down-time, or last-minute overspending in order to maintain business as usual after an unforeseen emergency.

New developments in capacity planning can help, by enabling the CIO to have comprehensive insight into the company’s IT estate, despite the rapidly changing nature of digital marketing initiatives.

The kinds of issues experienced by online retailers disappear, and the potential impact of changes in demand on a company’s IT estate become clear, allowing the CIO and CMO to function with much greater freedom and efficiency in their shifting roles. Capacity planning effectively bridges the operational gap between both officers.

With the growth in digital, IT now underpins the whole customer experience, therefore its performance is critical to business growth.

A recent IBM study revealed that 88% of CEOs want to get closer to their customers. Assuming they’re not turning up on their customers’ doorsteps, this will be through digital means. Furthermore, the spread of digital touch points and the need for access at any time, any place and on any device, means that IT infrastructure is now incredibly complex and dynamic, comprehensively leveraging technologies like cloud and virtualisation. This means that capacity planning is rising in importance.

Cloud-based capacity planning services enable CIOs to deal with the growing cross-over from the digital aspirations of the marketing department, enabling them to maintain control and effectively manage an organisation’s IT estate.

It allows the CMO much greater freedom and insight into how to adapt the business’ IT infrastructure to suit the market.

With a strong capacity planning function in place, companies can welcome the changing digital landscape, and foster an improved relationship between IT and Marketing.

It will ensure the efficient alignment of IT resources to meet the CMO’s needs while at the same time deliver the transparency and understanding required for both the CIO and CMO to successfully realise their joint ambitions.

Together, they can deliver a cost effective, highly flexible digital platform that delivers on customer experience and revenue growth for the business.