Craig Bickel
Craig Bickel

The CMO nut is a tough one to crack for the CIO. 

CMO’s are less interested in historical information and information generated through business operations then they are in real time, external information about customers, their perceptions of the company, the products or services and the competition. Gartner and many other research firms are predicting the CMO will spend more on technology in as little as 3 years. With that in mind, CIO’s need to be able to offer value to the CMO.

From a CMO’s standpoint, of course profitability is a good success measure but daily sales or on-time delivery performance isn’t as compelling as real-time, market-based, decision-driving information.  Even traditional media / market share data, IRI, Majors etc. combined with wholesale shipments or Point of Sales data is less compelling than in years past, given the wealth of direct information that customer and users of the product or service post on a minute by minute basis in social media. Statistics on visits to the website and how customers and prospects are navigating are not nearly as compelling as what customers are saying, what’s trending and how that is relevant to what the company offers, how they market it and how that translates into brand image and loyalty.

CMO’s today have to work both sides of the company image issue:

Playing defense:

  • They need to play defense against social media sneak attacks, like the Domino’s Pizza YouTube post. 
  • They need to be conscious of all the places where negative real-time feeds can go viral and drive image and consumer perception which can change buying patterns overnight.
  • Big data searches of Facebook, Twitter and other social media provide direct links to these attacks, the people who started them and those who are sharing them

On offense or selling:

  • Social media environment provides an immensely rich opportunity to see company perceptions and issues at a very micro level.  Where complaints and comments used to come in via mail or to a customer-care center, today it’s far more likely today that an individual with a notable experience will post it online. The CMO is interested in turning these experiences and affecting company / brand image but identify and responding to these issues proactively. 
  • CMO’s are offered a significant opportunity to analyze the ‘micro market’ and to push-market to individuals who have identified as a potential buyer or consumer for the company.  Using cookies, click through, ad tracking and other technologies, the CMO has the ability to directly touch individuals.  Pushing customized pop up, side bar ads and push-email to the potential consumer come from information held by search engine and portal providers.
  • The promise of Big Data is to give the CMO the ability to look at huge volumes of unstructured internal and external data locating, summarizing and drawing inferences from verbs, adverbs and adjectives associated with a product name, brand, company or other named references.  Marketing support groups can take direct action on what’s found or the CMO can tailor marketing plans to exploit or blunt what they learn from the communication marketplace.

CIO’s can help in these efforts by:

  • Identifying and brokering relationships with firms who do the ‘private investigator’ work around these social media attack issues.  The environment moves so quickly with new social media sites popping up weekly that it’s impractical for CIO’s to try to manage this capability internally.
  • Enabling and supporting the use of big data tools and workflow technology to identify and route posts and comments about the company and brand into the care center for response.
  • Additionally, enabling big data capabilities to identify trends in posts and correlate that with demographic groups that give the CMO insight into trends and views of the key market segments that is more robust and real time than focus groups and surveys.
  • Managing the effectiveness of personalization ads, providing the information exchange with the providers and data reduction capabilities needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these micro-marketing ventures.

The work for the CIO is far different than it is for other internal customers.  The focus should be on enablement and support for rapidly evolving and potentially ‘one use’ analysis.  Development constructs, even Agile are not sufficient for this type of use case.  In this environment, it’s not lead, follow or get out of the way, it’s all three at the same time.

Craig Bickel

Craig has over 30 years of executive and consulting experience in IT strategic planning, IT governance, IT sourcing, program management, organizational design and operational excellence. He has been an award winner from ComputerWorld and CIO magazine and has been the principal driver of business and IT transformation in numerous companies and industries.

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