Here are three critical areas that today’s “transformer” CIO needs to address to foster an agile digital marketing strategy and catapult ahead of the competition.
Digital marketing technologies change fast. Every year, businesses face more opportunities and complexities as new web, cloud, social and analytical tools emerge, promising businesses closer relationships with prospects, customers and partners alike. According to Gartner, the public cloud services market alone is expected to reach $204 billion in 2016. With the speed of technology today, there has never been such a scary and yet exciting time to be in business.
To win in the competitive digital era, businesses now require a combination of both technical and creative agility to delight customers at every touch point with the brand. This significant goal requires pushing away the perception of the CIO as solely tech-focused and inflexible and the CMO as purely marketing-focused and “fluffy.” In today’s third wave of digital marketing, the CIO and CMO are now after the same goal and are responsible for powering a strategic partnership that enables the organization to soar in meeting all performance targets.
- Use APIs to liberate data
Every department now wants the ability to experiment, create and iterate with technology, especially marketing departments that rely on technology for the entire customer journey. However, many users often find their requested priorities stuck in the IT queue for days, weeks or even months before their project emerges as new development.
As we enter the third wave of digital marketing, IT needs to give freedom and leeway to marketing to support their timeframes and to power their race toward stronger consumer relationships. Instead of having customer data sprawled in pieces throughout the organization in various technologies, CMOs require this information be brought together into one master record. This means that every touch point has all the data it needs; user information is always up-to-date, complete and accurate. This serves as the basis for providing better service and personalized, relevant experiences for every user, every time.
CIOs can provide this value through application program interfaces (APIs), which allow businesses to innovate and continually evolve without the need to migrate, rip and replace or build technologies from scratch. Simply put, APIs allow users to integrate any component with any other component. They pave the way for businesses to innovate, expand and integrate new technologies that grant access to untapped data.
- Strike a balance between privacy and customer data
Consumers expect companies to use their data wisely. Following Snowden’s revelations, many consumers are wary of how businesses collect and manage their data. For companies, tracking consumer data is complicated with different bits managed by different IT sub-systems. Further, if a company uses external marketing software or third-party services, some of that customer information may not even be under the business’ control.
To strike the right balance between privacy and consumer data, CIOs need to implement technology that gives consumers the data privacy rights they deserve while still collecting the information needed to give them a seamless, personal digital experience. CIOs can reinforce their business’ data privacy standards by making the core code accessible by all as an open source project. Below are seven fundamental principles to incorporate:
- Ethics: Ensure fair and responsible collection and use of customer data
- Transparency: Give customers a clear view of the collected data and how it is being used
- Control: Grant customers control of what data is anonymized and where it goes
- Access: Make sure only authorized people and companies have access to the data
- Auditing: Be accountable to your data policies as well as emerging legal requirements
- Security: Develop, maintain and certify recognized, verified security standards
- Standards: Ensure interoperability and clarity that will stand the test of time
Very soon, this privacy and usage standard will not be a voluntary action taken merely by ethical companies. Emerging legal regulations will make it mandatory as it catches up with the digital marketing revolution. This has already started in European courts, where they determined there is a “right to be forgotten.” This verifies the courts are recognizing that individual privacy rights need to be respected, even on the Internet. No enterprise can afford to be behind in this area anymore.
- Partner with the CMO to create a reliable, unique digital marketing experience
Over time, the CIO and CMO have edged closer in understanding the intersection of their roles. CIOs have invested in portals, seen online presences rival or surpass physical presences and used the Internet for logistics, collaboration and contact centers. CMOs have conducted online surveys, used analytics for customer insights and started managing web content, among other things.
Today, the CIO and CMO bump into each other often, crisscrossing paths as the digital tumult throws them together time and time again. CMOs live and breathe online tools to expand brands and one-to-one relationships with customers in a lifecycle that extends from initial awareness to purchase and lifetime loyalty. CIOs are now enablers, allowing other C-suite executives to be digitally-enabled.
What is clear is that both the CIO and CMO are working toward the same goal of delighting customers every time they touch the brand. By focusing on the customer, IT and marketing can work together to deliver great digital marketing customer experiences. Success in the third wave of digital marketing lies in providing personalized experiences while making the customer feel safe. To accomplish this, CIOs and CMOs must be transparent about their company policies for data collection and protection, always walking the tightrope between intimacy and privacy.
Fortunately, as leaders in today’s third wave of digital marketing, many CIOs and CMOs no longer view the two roles as oil and water and, instead, see the complimentary nature of their responsibilities. A lot of opportunities lie in a combination of technology, communications and marketing. For instance, think of websites that act as banners for businesses, analytics tools that tell us about customer behavior, collaborative networks and software that turn the world into a global village, or content marketing strategies that create a whole new image as companies become publishers. Now, the CMO needs to participate in technology adoption decisions and the CIO needs to be involved in the success of the entire customer journey to enable employee, customer and brand success.