IT clashes with Marketing over the mobile web: Interview with Netbiscuits

By Chris Lee

A recent survey suggests that while the chief marketing officer (CMO) is focused on improving aspects of the customer experience, the chief information officer (CIO) is much more aware of some of the technical challenges in delivering some of the CMO’s requirements. This could hamper business performance, the company behind the study warns.

Netbiscuits found that more than half (53 per cent) of the CMOs it questioned cited “provide customers with more channels for interaction” as a critical factor, compared to just 35 per cent of CIOs. Again, CMOs were in the majority describing “improving customer online engagement” as critical (44 per cent) compared to just 29 per cent of CIOs. Meanwhile, 86 per cent of the CIO audience were more concerned with the bottom line revenue improvement from improving sales via mobile platforms.

As consumer web habits move and develop faster than brands can react, these findings only highlight the need for brands to get their mobile web strategy right, according to Netbiscuits’ CMO Daniel Weisbeck. If they aren’t aligned internally on how they should utilise this “powerful weapon” they risk getting the customer experience wrong and may lose market share, he warned.     

C-suite conflict

The battle lines for C-suite supremacy have been drawn for some time with the CIO and CMO often painted as two of the most conflicting roles in terms of priorities and areas of focus, according to Weisbeck. However, while the battle for the boardroom helps generate interesting headlines in the media, the reality is that the CIO and CMO may have to come together and collaborate more than they think in order to achieve their goals, he argued.

“It may seem like the CMO and CIO have very different goals, but empowering the business to deliver better online customer experiences, for example, cannot be done without an understanding of the technical considerations,” he told NMK. “In relation to developing a mobile web strategy, neither function can claim to have all of the elements covered, so are we talking about an all-out war or an opportunity for a collaborative journey?”

The jury is seemingly out. Netbiscuits’ survey revealed that despite mobile web strategy being primarily owned by the CIO today (44 per cent of cases), more than 50 per cent of CMOs believe that sole ownership of mobile should increasingly belong to them. CMOs were also found to be against the idea of alignment with CIOs; only nine per cent of them said this was a desirable situation, compared to 23 per cent of CIOs who would welcome greater ownership from the CMO office.

“While IT figures out the technical challenges behind the big data headache, Marketing should be working in collaboration, identifying new channels for customer engagement, rather than working in silos,” Weisbeck advised.

Mobile marketing collaboration tips

Weisbeck argued that the great Big Data debate is overwhelming the CIO’s functional agenda while transforming the CMO’s tactical marketing ability. Netbiscuits provides five top tips for collaborative CIO/CMO mobile collaboration success:

1. Give the CMO responsibility for the customer experience and everything that drives it

2. IT should be regarded as an equal partner at the C-suite table, not just a provider of technology

3. Gain consensus and alignment from marketing and IT on key issues, such as customer data access vs. privacy and security

4. Make IT more marketing-savvy and impart tech knowledge and skills into the CMO function.

5. Trust breeds trust. Having the CIO and CMO working on mutually-beneficial projects and initiatives that gain trust is crucial to building a collaborative future

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