Three steps in building a strategic partnership with marketing

In the future, the companies that thrive against competitors will be those that embrace their empowered customers and become obsessed with delivering a unique, tailored brand experience — this is what characterizes the emerging era of the customer.

We already see how customers hold power over the brands they choose, and use social technologies to influence buying choices and value perceptions.

We are entering a new era that demands a new partnership between IT and marketing.

Organisations need this partnership because firms must master not just the data, but also the flow of that data, pushing actionable intelligence to all edges of the organisation.

By collaborating to collect, analyze, and distribute customer data, marketing and IT enable nimble and smart customer-facing programs, matching rapidly shifting customer needs and delivering near-instant customization based on deep knowledge of customers and their habits.

Unfortunately, differences in near-term and long-term focus too often lead to rifts between IT and marketing.

Where chief marketing officers (CMOs) typically focus on increasing revenue in the near term, CIOs more often take the long view, often spanning years, to ensure that IT is building a sustainable technology environment to support ongoing growth.

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To this point, our conversations with CIOs reveal that most IT professionals perceive marketing as always in a hurry to get things done without concern for governance.

Similarly, it's clear from talking with CMOs that marketing has its share of misperceptions about IT.

Many marketers see IT as the department of No, that doesn't understand the need for speed.

Only marketing and IT together have the skills and the capacity to help companies become customer-obsessed, master the flow of customer data (see figure), and thrive in the coming age of the customer.

CIOs need to develop a trusted partnership with marketing that will support the customer data flow.

CIOs should focus on people and process first in setting up a successful marketing partnership and tackle the big technology challenges only after a solid foundation of trust is established.

For example, among the many recommendations to improve the relationship between IT and marketing, Forrester suggests CIOs should:

1. Staff IT for success with marketing
IT staff have little exposure to marketing as a discipline. This makes it difficult for IT to understand marketing's needs and work alongside them without appearing ignorant.