In today's increasingly converged world, there's a tendency to pit CIOs and CMOs against one another as if they're standing in opposing corners of the ring. But that's rarely the occasion, says Altimeter Group principal analyst Brian Solis, citing new research from the firm that focuses on the state of digital transformation among companies investing in the digital customer experience.
It's a turf war that's been sensationalized ad nauseam, and with few concrete examples. It turns out CIOs and CMOs are in much greater alignment than some would suggest.
"The CIO is more important than ever before," says Solis. Instead of working against a technology roadmap, CIOs are now focusing on organizational processes and objectives that matter more to different types of customers and employees.
"That's the irony about digital transformation, it doesn't work when in of itself technology is the solution. Technology has to be an enable and that enabler needs to be aligned with a bigger mission. We already found that companies that lead digital transformation from a more human center actually bring people together in the organization faster and with greater results," Solis says.
'Technology Becomes an Enabler, Not the Answer'
When technology is heralded above all else, there becomes an even greater disconnect between employees and the challenges that their business is trying to solve. "There might be isolated investments that are doing very well, but they're still isolated," says Solis. And that's what opens the door for CIOs or CMOs trying to land grab, he explains.
Companies focused on the bigger picture are asking questions like how technology can enable them to achieve new things and what's different about customers today versus yesterday. With the right information and foundation in place, technology becomes an enabler, not the answer, Solis adds.
Digital transformation in enterprise isn't only about what the customers see and experience, according to the firm. Companies must evolve and reimagine their internal process, structure and culture to match this evolution in customer behavior among their employees. "It's sort of transformation with purpose and once you have purpose you can have vision," he says.
"Those companies that do start, especially from a digital customer experience perspective, they get answers that allow them to then see a path forward for how tech plays a role, but also how internally processes and people need to play a role that supports the greater goal," says Solis. "No one person can do that alone."
Indeed, Altimeter Group's research found that digital transformation is most effective when somebody rises to the occasion. But among executives it's the CMOs that are leading the charge at 54 percent, according to the firm. CEOs come next at 42 percent while CIOs and chief digital officers are championing and supporting digital transformation within their company by a rate of 29 percent, among 20 leading brands interviewed by Altimeter Group.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.