People-Based Marketing: Strengthening CIO-CMO Relationships

Martin Gilliard

Social media. Cloud computing. Mobile and Big Data. All of these technologies are permeating every aspect of the marketing function. CMOs and marketers are becoming more comfortable and knowledgeable with digital technology as they experiment with the latest innovations to reach customers that are equally, if not more, digitally savvy. As the CMO role becomes more technology-focused, how does the chief information officer (CIO) and the IT organization fit in?

While many like to write about and exaggerate the tensions between the CIO-CMO relationship, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. In my role at Facebook, I consult with many organizations where the CIO-CMO relationship are thriving. While a CIOs priority is still to support the daily tasks that keep existing systems up and running without disruption, I also see them taking an invaluable part in the digital transformation conversation, advising on the feasibility of new digital approaches, and delivering applications and services that drive the digital enterprise vision.

For the organizations that are moving towards digital transformation, there are no battle lines drawn between the CIO and CMO. Rather, they are forming a partnership that leverages the CMO’s brand and customer-experience strategy and the complementary expertise of the CIO to ensure all enabling technology runs smoothly, securely, and safely.

People-based marketing: Bridging the device gap with mobile 

At Facebook, our approach to people-based marketing combines our philosophy and practice of accurately connecting customers in a mobile world across devices and surfaces. Until recently, this technology was just not there. The most common approach to try to connect people across devices is  a cookie-based approach that is not able to accurately identify a consumer journey across their home laptop, office desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Our mobile reach coupled with our people-based measurement capabilities enable Facebook to bridge the gap between the user experience across all devices.

We are able to accurately measure ads across channels, especially mobile apps where cookies don’t work. This unified view enables us give marketers better insights on what is working and what is not. 

Figuring out the right technology

For a lot of brands, the move from a product-driven strategy to customer centricity requires a significant cultural adjustment. Structural changes should also align the design and manufacturing of products and the overall organizational setup with that evolving mindset. However, as many companies have discovered, this shift is sometimes hampered when the CIO and CMO do not speak the same language when addressing business and technology needs.

Consider the technology CMOs buy. Typically, these platforms perform very different functions than the technology solutions purchased by CIOs. Most digital advertising platforms execute workflow tasks and rely on cookies as their primary data source. The objectives of the enterprise solutions used by CIOs are primarily focused on managing unstructured, transactional, and offline data. From a technical perspective, these solutions have fundamental differences that are very hard to overcome, especially when you attempt to integrate the two. Attempting to live with both approaches within one enterprise usually doesn’t work and often leads to frustration, misunderstanding, and turf battles.

Are you ready for a CIO-CMO partnership?

When it comes to digital transformation, what happens in marketing impacts IT, and vice versa. For this reason, CIOs and CMOs must merge their unique perspectives of opportunities and risks, as well as the user and customer experience, to help the business fully realize the potential of its digital platforms. By engaging in a conversation with a common perspective and language, they can determine together the strategic value of their applications and data – from which ones could be shared or monetized to those that should be protected and deemed proprietary. More importantly, they are better equipped to connect data points to improve online and offline customer experiences.

Let’s remember, digital transformation strains the responsibilities of IT and the CIO. The rest of the organization should acknowledge this. But it is also evident that as growth and revenue strategies move in the same direction as IT, the full power of a digital enterprise is realized. When CIOs and CMOs work together with a common objective and with technologies that offer a seamless experience between the customer and the enterprise, they will together likely bring about a digital transformation for their organization that will disrupt their industry.

For more leadership strategies to manage digital disruption, see Navigating The Perfect Storm: IT Leadership Through The Next Phase Of Digital Transformation.

Martin Gilliard

About Martin Gilliard

Martin Gilliard is the Head of MarTech and Data Partnerships for Global Marketing Services at Facebook, where he focuses on integrating technology and data for omni-channel partners. Prior to joining Facebook, Martin was the General Manager of AdTruth at Experian. He previously launched a business analytics company as CEO at DATAMYZE, a marketing analytics platform. Martin holds a bachelors degree in business management and studio from Bucknell University.