Your CMOs and CTOs Need to Connect Better to Forge Effective Digital Strategies

In a modern economy dominated by all things digital, it’s imperative that the people in charge of the data that comes from the customer value chain and the people who are selling the goods and services to those customers are in full alignment. But according to a new study, in most companies, connections between these two C-suite executives is weak at best.

More than 60% of marketers and IT respondents said they don’t see eye-to-eye on how to reach customers and prospects online and how to measure the results, according to the new CMO Digital Benchmark Study by the Leapfrog Marketing Institute, which interviewed 131 U.S. executives with a title of director or higher, in both functions.

“More than 60% of marketers and IT respondents said they don’t see eye-to-eye on how to reach customers and prospects online and how to measure the results.”

Further, while 20% of CMOs surveyed believe that working on data-driven technology or technology-driven programs has improved the CMO-CTO alignment, only 4% of IT executives feel that way. And while 40% of IT executives say they are more confident in their company’s omnichannel consumer experience, only 27% of senior marketers are.

The survey revealed all sorts of disconnects between CMOs and CTOs on other issues as well. The main point was that they need to get on the same page to optimize their companies’ harnessing of digital technology, and most of them aren’t.

“We’re a bit behind in utilizing the technology curve,” Kathy Button Bell, vice president and CMO for Emerson Electric, told The Economist. “Industrial and technology companies are behind B-to-C and we’re playing a little bit of hurry-up to catch up … We’re behind even in simple things on e-commerce as an industry.”

Now, more than ever, “CMOs and CTOs need to come together to best determine which solution will have the most impact and help their business grow,” Greg Coleman, then president of Criteo, a digital-advertising outfit, explained in Fast Company in 2013. “Otherwise, we’ll never eliminate the lingering mentality of our industry’s early days where in-house solutions were built with a ‘see what sticks’ mentality and the two had competing plans and schedules for deployment requiring appeals to the CEO for resources.

“When a CMO and CTO are aligned, they will inevitably begin to speak a mutually understood language that will benefit them both—from streamlining processes to CMOs assisting CTOs in prioritization by creating a ‘protective dome’ around them, to CTOs thinking with a CMO [or customer] hat on.”

Only by strategically moving in the same direction can CMOs and CTOs help their business leaders address effectively the imperative for implementing a winning digital strategy. This can be especially important in B2B companies, which have tended to run behind their consumer-facing counterparts in this arena.


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