If you are a CIO who wants to ensure your place in the organization, a good place to start is with the CMO. That is because the CMO is most likely the C-suite executive under the most pressure to do something and show results. And there is nothing like an urgent need to get things done to make a person interested in new friends. IT has two critical things to offer the CMO: data and connectivity.
Donít worry about understanding all the newest social media marketing apps, and donít worry about understanding all the latest trends in the advertising and marketing world -- thatís what marketing people do. What IT people need to remember is that whatever the marketing apps and whatever the ad campaign being launched, they all involve managing data and connectivity, and that's what IT people do well.
Marketing starts with knowing who your current customers are and where can you find more customers like them. The most valuable collections of data in your company are your databases of customers and prospects, and that data resides in your ERP, CRM, and sales automation systems. Theoretically, it should be easy for the CMO and the marketing staff to get data from those systems whenever they need it, but in reality this is rarely the case. There are all sorts of technical hoops to jump through, and nobody but the IT group really knows how to do that.
The CMO also needs the customer data to flow seamlessly into whatever databases and marketing apps (in-house or in the cloud) that the marketing group wants to use. This means connectivity. Again, theoretically, it should be easy enough to connect ERP and CRM systems to other databases and apps and transfer the needed data, but it never is. Donít expect marketing people to understand the intricacies of APIs and ETL (extract, transform, load) operations.
As you read this article, chances are your marketing group is in the midst of, or soon will be in the midst of, a new marketing campaign. They urgently need a clean and complete set of data about company customers and prospects, and they need to load it into databases and cloud-based marketing apps. They will then work with outside ad agencies and research services to find other potential customers with similar characteristics, and they will use selected advertising and communication channels to contact those customers and prospects and deliver whatever messages they think will appeal to those people.
Then when those people respond to the messages sent to them, the marketing people are responsible for capturing those responses and measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns. They need to identify the sales leads and route those leads to your company sales organization. In addition, they need to find responses that indicate customer problems and questions and route them to your customer service organization. That means the data needs to flow seamlessly back into your ERP and CRM and sales automation and business intelligence systems. Is this possible in your company today? Probably not.
So go knock on the CMOís door and say, ďHi, Iím from IT, and Iím here to help.Ē
This will momentarily stun and confuse the CMO who is used to IT delivering all sorts of unhelpful excuses for why things canít be done, and why things that might be done will take forever to finish. Smile and reassure the CMO that this time is different. Say you know the new marketing campaign needs customer data and connectivity to various apps. Tell the CMO you will get it done in 30 days or less (see my piece on agile development).
Then go back to your office and just do it. Donít bore people with the technical details (thatís your business), and donít obsess over little problems (a good solution now is better than a perfect solution later). Build the first version of your data extract and connectivity system right away, and put it into production, and keep modifying and enhancing that system as marketing needs change.
This single act will cause a multitude of previous grievances to be forgotten. The CMO will look at IT in a new light. It will be the start of a beautiful friendship. It will be the opening that gives you the credibility you need to start improving the IT groupís reputation with all the other senior execs like the VP Sales, the COO, the CFO, and the CEO
Iíll talk about how to approach those other senior execs in following articles. But start with the CMO. This is your big opportunity. Do it now.