In a business climate that stresses agility and collaboration, many CIOs still struggle to align IT with lines of business and get involved end-to-end on customer-oriented innovations.
In particular, the IT and marketing relationship reveals a disconnect: IT leaders strive to drive innovation in enterprise mobility and integrate IT with lines of business, but remain focused on many other business critical priorities. Marketing needs tech innovations to drive initiatives yet CMOs leave IT out of the loop until later on in projects, at which point the relationship is less about collaboration and more about telling IT what is needed.
The trend can be seen widely: according to an Accenture survey, 75 percent of CMOs believe that CIOs place marketing at the bottom of their priorities. On the other hand, 39 percent of CIOs believe that marketing bypasses them to work directly with vendors.
CIOs face a pivotal moment of realigning priorities and a stronger bond between tech and the customer experience. Enabling IT and marketing collaboration offers one avenue of driving business-critical innovation.
CMOs and CIOs need to keep the customer in mind at all time when it comes to mobility. And what do customers want? According to recent Forester research, 60% of customers expect a sales associate to be able to search for an item availability with a mobile device. The trend will only go upward in the coming years and this is only a part of the whole customer experience.
The hurdles between IT and innovation strategy
CIOs are talking plenty about prioritizing innovation for enterprise mobility and improving the customer experience. Recent Accenture research has found that:
- 75 percent of IT leaders place mobility among their top five priorities.
- 84 percent expect mobility to greatly improve customer engagement.
Meanwhile, an InformationWeek poll recently showed that improving customer service and the customer experience has been quickly rising among priorities according to CIOs and IT leaders. Among those findings:
- In 2013, 52 percent saw IT innovation as helping to understand customers.
- Cost cutting and employee collaboration received the most focus of IT innovation.
- 39 percent of CIOs regularly interact with customers, up from 23 percent in 2013.
These numbers show the motivation and interest, leaving plenty of room for advances in IT and marketing collaboration. So, why doesn’t IT create the time and place for customer-oriented innovations? The answer likely stems from realities facing both IT and marketing.
IT has a lot on its plate. Our clients frequently tell us that the variety and volume of IT services needed holds leadership back from tackling strategic projects like improving the customer experience.
From day-to-day support services to critical operations like server upgrades and ERP implementation, most IT departments are too busy to spend precious time and resources on improving the customer experience—despite a desire to do so. That leads CMOs and other lines of business leaders to make more tech decisions on their own or by using outside vendors, without implicating IT.
When marketing and other departments bypass IT to develop consumer-facing technology initiatives, IT has a more perfunctory role when brought on later in the project.
From the IT perspective, leadership often struggles to shift that dialog. Round-the-clock operations cannot be abandoned and CIOs continue to feel concern over their level of partnership with business leaders.
How CIOs can initiate customer-driven technologies from within
Virtually everyone involved hopes to innovate and disrupt with mobility solutions that impact customer relationships and sales. IT and marketing collaboration can work together on customer-oriented initiatives to achieve faster results, especially when leveraging the resources and expertise of outside vendors for infrastructure, applications and all the other behind-the-scenes work.
The good news is that IT already holds the information and tools to provide insight across all areas of the business. Ultimately, every project needs IT to integrate technology and customer data into a secure, efficient solution.
Given all the real and perceived disconnect between CIOs and lines of business leaders—and the fact that IT must fit customer initiatives into already tight budgets and schedules—CIOs must make the first move toward collaboration.
As one of our clients has said, when business leaders make IT decisions without involving IT leadership from the beginning, the business side tunes out what IT has to say. That’s a symptom—not the cause—of the problem, and IT leaders need to elbow their way if necessary to involve IT strategically on mobility and other innovative projects.
When it comes to customer experience, CIOs need to think in terms of both “personal” experience and in-store experience with sales associates. Mobility is a driver of human to human interaction.
Mobile technologies continue to further intertwine businesses and customers. Does your business integrate IT, marketing, and other departments on a strategic basis? If not, IT leadership needs to lead the charge on future initiatives in order to create value for the company and leverage the expertise of strategic partners.