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CIOs, CMOs team up to boost customer experience

Sheila Lam | Nov. 19, 2012
Customer engagement is about creating an emotional connection. Whether it's a clever tag line like "Let's Gap Together" or images of alluring models, the idea is to create a rapport and convert it into business transactions.

The same IBM study showed 60% of marketers cite a lack of alignment with IT as the biggest obstacle to reach today's consumers, and 46% said their CIOs don't understand marketing objectives.

"There are fundamental differences on how people in these respective disciplines view the world," said Timothy Adams, former regional director of customer marketing and intelligence at Prudential Assurance. "It's a typical 'left-brain vs right-brain' situation."

Adams has a background in marketing and analytics in the insurance industry. He said IT has historically been able to successfully implement strict processes and bring efficiency, while marketing projects tends to be creativity-led, fluid processes.

"Different world-views usually create a barrier to collaborate, because of the language-differences," he said. "A common IT mindset: you need to make sure the system availability is 99.999%, it has to work. But when a marketing campaign delivers 60-70%, that's a good return. These different perspectives lead to fundamentally different mindsets."

Conflict of interest

Such differences often create conflicts on project development schedules. Adams said it's not uncommon for marketers to keep IT out from their digital marketing projects, as the involvement might delay the projected delivery time.

"It's not that the marketing guys want to be reckless," he said. "It's because that's what the customers want. Customer-demand changes rapidly--if you waited six months, the request might not be relevant anymore."

Meanwhile, from the IT side, governance and processes are fundamental. Processes and documentation, which are required to ensure security and reliability, often create a longer time-to-deliver for the project.

"But the IT side can diversify their processes on IT projects," said Adams. "A multi-million dollar infrastructure project is fundamentally different from a simple app that takes a couple months to develop and has a lifespan of only six to nine months. It's helpful to bring in a process that's more appropriate for the needs of the business users."

Bridging the gap

To bridge the gap between IT and marketing, communication is essential. According to SHKF's Cheong, the success of eMO is due to communication among the design team.

"Early on, we conducted a vision-sharing session with our IT team," she said. "We continue to foster a culture of open communication and sharing through the use of collaboration tools."

With a team of young IT and marketing professionals, who are more used to instant-messaging than meetings, the collaboration tools created a better platform for sharing new trends discovered or cool feature ideas, said Cheong.

The head of e-business began her career as a web developer and later moved into marketing and general management roles. "As an IT executive, learning to understand the bigger picture and thinking ahead is key," she said. "You can achieve this by asking simple but intelligent questions."


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