CIOs and marketing leaders may be competitors for critical role in harnessing customer data

By David Bicknell

It’s a sign of the times that by  2017, according to the Gartner research group, organisations’ chief marketing officers will be spending more on IT than the CIO. It is departments such as marketing that are helping drive consumerisation within the organisation with healthy purchases of tablet computers – usually iPads – outside the remit of the IT department.

There are good reasons for that. As this article in Ad Age points out, data was once ‘the domain of tech geeks and direct-marketing gurus’, while chief marketing officers focused on loftier things like shaping brand perception.

Not now. Thanks to an explosion of data from social-media platforms, call centres, customer transactions and loyalty programs, CMOs ‘who want a seat at the table will have to harness customer data and leverage it – or risk being relegated to chief promotions officer.’

The article suggests a key alliance – or will it be a battle? – of the future will be between the CMO and the CIO to become a de-facto chief customer officer.

As Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff puts it, “The only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers. Brand, manufacturing, distribution and IT are all table stakes. The only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption, an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with and serving customers. In this age, companies that thrive … are those that tilt their budgets toward customer knowledge and relationships.”

Welcome to the Age of the Customer

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