3 facts that will help you work better with your CIO

3 facts that will help you work better with your CIO

by CMO.com Team

Posted on 07-12-2018

A new breed of CIO is heavily focused on improving customer experiences and wants to improve lines of communication with marketing accordingly, but they also need some time while they deal with transitioning legacy infrastructure, according to the “2018 Digital Trends Report” by Econsultancy and Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company).

As the emphasis on digital experiences continues to bring the roles of the CIO and CMO ever closer, understanding what separates the positions is just as important to foster a more collaborative relationship. Here are three facts that can help you to work smarter together.

Their focus on customer experience is on the rise

“The high proportion (39%) of IT respondents that cite keeping up with changing customer expectations and behaviour as one of their top external challenges demonstrates the increased customer centricity of a new breed of CIO,” the study reveals. If you work in a larger organisation–those with more than £150m in annual sales–your CIO is more likely to be conscious of the challenges that come with doing business in the age of the customer, citing this as their biggest external challenge. They are significantly more likely than their peers at smaller organisations to be ‘kept awake at night’ thinking about meeting customer expectations (48% versus 40%).

The same increased enthusiasm in big companies exists for artificial intelligence (AI). They are almost twice as likely as peers at smaller organisations to cite utilising AI or bots to drive campaigns and experience as an exciting prospect (27% versus 14%). The responses back up evidence that AI is already making a significant impact, enabling companies to be smarter and more effective in the way they reach their target audiences. In the main 2018 Digital Trends report, it emerged that top-performing companies are more than twice as likely to be using AI for marketing (28% versus 12%).

The good news is that the drive towards tailored experiences that delight is a challenge your counterparts relish, with IT professionals most likely to see the delivery of personalised experiences in real time as the most exciting prospect in three years’ time, ahead of other technological innovations such as the Internet of Things, AI, virtual or augmented reality, voice interfaces and payment technologies. 

They want to communicate with you better

The 2017 edition of the report found efficient lines of communication between CIOs and CMOs was very much a work in progress. It was clear, for example, that internal information exchange between IT and other executives was an area that organisations was an area of weakness, and that IT’s position as the business-technology bridge had not yet been secured.

Few respondents indicated that their colleagues – from whichever department – were helping them stay connected with the latest trends. This year’s responses, however, show clear cause for optimism. There
has been a significant increase (up six percentage points, from 25% to 31%) in the proportion of IT executives staying connected as a result of the useful information provided by members of their organisation’s leadership team.

There has also been an uptick in the proportion of IT respondents citing the digital marketing team (up one point), direct reports (two points), and line-of-business leaders (also two points) as a way of staying connected. There is clearly still work to be done though, with IT leaders continuing to look externally for much of their information, whether from technology content providers, peers and competitors, or vendor partners. The proportion of respondents citing industry peers/ competitors has climbed from 44% to 57%, while the figure for those tuning to expertise/insights gained from vendor partnerships has jumped from 42% to 51%. 

Transitioning from legacy systems is causing more of a headache than you might think

While your colleagues are focused on the digital transformation that will enable the exceptional customer experiences we all seek, the move away from legacy systems remains a significant challenge. The most significant in-company barrier to driving digital transformation is the integration of legacy systems with new technology cited as a top-three challenge by 45% of respondents, up from 41% last year.

Those at larger companies are preoccupied by three key internal challenges, namely departmental silos / bureaucratic processes (60%), difficulties integrating legacy systems with new tools and technologies (55%) and lack of shared vision as to what digital transformation means (52%). For smaller companies, the pain appears to be more evenly spread across the full spectrum of headaches that can hinder digital transformation.

These finding echoes separate research by PAC carried out in 2017 which found that ageing technology is holding back European businesses from realising the benefits of digital transformation. That study found that more than half (57%) of 500 IT and business decision makers at large enterprises said their technology infrastructure was struggling to keep up with the demand that digitisation is bringing.

The reality for many organisations with sprawling and complicated infrastructure is that existing solutions need to be managed in parallel with more state-of-the-art cloud-based technologies that can help to fast-track their digital evolution.

Part of the solution to all these challenges lies in strong leadership and close cooperation between different C-suite executives to ensure that digital transformation initiatives have the best chance of success. Research by Altimeter published in 2017 shows that responsibility for digital transformation is now most likely to lie with the CIO/CTO (28%), ahead of you, the CMO (23%), and CEO (20%). While in previous years the CIO and CMO were vying more closely for digital transformation leadership, the evidence now suggests a shift towards CIO/CTO ownership.

Irrespective of where the buck ultimately stops, joint C-suite leadership and a consistent vision – backed by the CEO – is required to maximise the chances of success, and to minimise the negative impact of departmental silos. So, know that your CIO shares your passion to boost customer experiences, and include you in that process, but they are sometimes struggling with their own challenges.

Topics: Tends & Research, Experience Cloud, Insights & Inspiration, Digital Transformation, Future of Work, Information Technology, CMO by Adobe