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The Gulf Between IT and Marketing
Tech savvy people in the age group of 25-45 years are now the hot favorites of carmakers in India as these potential buyers are using the power of the Internet to decide on their next purchase. Digital marketing is picking up in a big way and automakers are spending more on various online marketing initiatives than ever before.
Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest carmaker, is already on the digital bandwagon reaching out to its current and prospective customers through online communities and social marketing platforms. The auto giant's IT department is working in close coordination with the marketing team.
"Earlier our investment in social media used to be miniscule but today it is a significant part," says Rajesh Uppal, CIO, Maruti Suzuki India. "We have built a huge database of 8.5 million customers of ours and we are trying to get their e-mail IDs and make communities to reach out to them," he says.
Uppal says that managing customers with the use of digital marketing is a big strategy in Maruti Suzuki, and his IT department is working closely with the company's core marketing team.
Digital marketing, although a baby of the CMO, depends hugely on the CIO and his team for support and sustainability. This is because today's online marketing is not just about putting up a few banner advertisements on some websites.
"The many virtues of digital marketing--its speed, flexibility, interactivity, and accountability--require a whole new set of marketing strategies and skills to make it work. And it demands a close collaboration between CMOs and CIOs to build the technology to automate new marketing processes and provide real-time decision support," says consulting firm Booz & Co., in its report titled 'Online Customers, Digital Marketing - The CMO-CIO Connection.
With the growing importance of social media today, companies are targeting the customer as an individual, and not just as a part of a homogenous group. "Slowly, the industry is moving from a mass broadcast type of advertisement to selling to one. Therefore, social media is the way of reaching out to your customers while managing your advertising spends," says Uppal.
Not all CIOs, however, are so hands on with marketing, and therefore, the gulf between the CIOs and the CMOs in many organizations runs deep. A study involving 300 senior IT executives and as many senior marketing executives of 50 leading companies, conducted by Accenture and the CMO Council, shows that "the relationship between marketing and IT too often remains dysfunctional, with marketers complaining about insufficient support from enterprise IT departments, and IT complaining about marketing departments that forge forward with technology implementations without IT involvement."
The report titled 'CMO-CIO Alignment Imperative: Driving Revenue Through Customer Relevance', throws up an interesting question: What should be on the CIO's agenda for marketing? The report says that both sides agree the top area of CIO focus should be the delivery of more timely and relevant transactional, behavioral and customer insight data. But on the IT side, there is a stronger focus on automating customer interactions and handling and furthering the use of social media for online listening. One of the executives has been quoted as saying that the CIO and the CMO are from different planets.
Despite this gap, the report points out some consensus between the CIOs and CMOs. Both agree on the top three drivers for greater alignment between their two organizations. These include:
• Technology now underpins and shapes the entire customer experience (according to 65 percent of CIOs and 50 percent of CMOs)
• Access to customer intelligence is critical to competitive advantage (according to 53 percent of CIOs and 55 percent of CMOs)
• Reaching and engaging the market has become more digitally driven (according to 40 percent of CIOs and 44 percent of CMOs)
What is your experience of working with the marketing team? How closely is your IT department aligned with the objectives of the core marketing team and its digital initiatives?