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CIOs being welcomed back to marketing

The role of CIOs in shaping the technology buying decisions of marketers is being reinstated as more marketers realise the importance of integrating their services with IT systems

CIOs, once famously robbed of control of the marketing IT budget because chief marketing officers (CMOs) were using corporate credit cards to buy cloud-based services, are now being welcomed back.

Their resurgence comes at a time when marketing departments are realising that it is not possible to deliver the rich experiences customers crave and enterprises seek without significant integration with information systems, as well as internal and external data sources – and that needs support from IT professionals.

Speaking at the Adobe Symposium in Sydney this week, Brad Rencher, executive vice-president and general manager of digital experience for the company, said the integration demands of good customer experience meant that the CIO role was coming back to marketing.

Getting it right is essential, Rencher warned, because “not so great experiences can be damaging to brand, business and customer relationships”.

Adobe chairman, president and CEO Shantanu Narayan, who was in Sydney for the event, added that with experiences rising above everything else, businesses will need to operate with what he described as a “subscription mindset” – particularly in a world where customers can renew or change suppliers with every click.

New research commissioned by Adobe and conducted by Forrester suggests that delivering good customer experiences has clear impact on the bottom line.

According to the research, experience-driven businesses grew their revenue 1.8 times faster than laggards. The companies identified as “experience leaders” also reported an average revenue growth or 23%, while laggards saw their growth drop to an average of 13%

Right now, however, Forrester classed just 29% of Asia-Pacific organisations as experience-driven businesses.

Narayan said the challenge for many enterprises looking to deliver better customer experiences is to manage legacy platforms and data silos, adding that IT teams would need to “rip out the digital duct tape” that had been holding systems together in the past.

The extent of the technology hurdles was acknowledged by Katie James, senior digital manager for loyalty program Flybuys.

Flybuys currently serves 6.1 million households and captures the data associated with around 25% of all retail sales in Australia. At any time, the company has around 4,000 personalised offers in the market.

However, James acknowledged that the Flybuys system was not real time, and still relied on batch uploads of data – in some cases it can take six weeks to turn a marketing idea into reality.

“The keys to unlocking real time are around integration for over 20 partners which are on different systems,” she said.

Companies which have been able to successfully deploy technology to transform their loyalty and customer experiences are seeing benefits.

Elisse Jones, customer relationship management (CRM) manager for Total Tools, Australia’s largest professional tools business, has in the past year overseen the complete rework of its loyalty program.

The company had previously installed technology to manage customer data, but as Jones notes, “we had bought the Ferrari, but were driving it like a Commodore”.

The system overhaul, and loyalty program rethink, is now delivering benefits. Jones said that active membership had risen 32%. E-mail engagement and click through rates had also gone up by 89% and 194% respectively, she said.

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