January 22, 2014

Several industry analysts have stated that the typical CMOs will soon spend more money on technology solutions than their counterpart CIOs. It's a bold prediction and one that many of us would have seriously doubted at the turn of the new millennium.

Whether that prediction comes true or not is marginally important. What's essential is recognizing clear market trends. Marketing leaders are embracing the power of technology with increasing expectations and budgets. It's no longer unusual for CIOs to share executive oversight and sponsorship of technology projects with CMO colleagues. In fact, marketing departments are authoring business requirements for technology solutions that enable go-to-market strategies and initiatives at a rate like never before. That's why CMOs and CIOs are becoming "best friends" in the office and now work closely together to provide solutions that better enable their companies to win.

Rod Brooks, PEMCO
Rod Brooks, PEMCO

What's driving this new friendship between leaders of business art and science? Well, it's the age of the customer. The consumer movement is at full power, thanks primarily to widespread access to real-time information. Consumers have little difficulty comparing prices, product and service features, and competitors – and then sharing what's discovered with a social network of friends and neighbors. The playing field has changed. Consumers now hold the communication advantage, which allows forward-leaning carriers to concentrate on knowing their customers and engaging with them in relevant and timely ways. Marketing, at its very core, is all about communication. And in today's hyper-connected world, communicating is about technology.

[Previously from Brooks: Making Your Insurance Company the Next Coinstar]

Forrester's Josh Bernoff documented four areas of investment that will be critical for customer-focused companies going forward. Bernoff raised the bar by describing winning companies as "customer-obsessed." Apparently just being "focused" is no longer enough.

Bernoff believes these four areas of investment will boost emphasis on the customer and our interaction with them:

  • real-time actionable data sharing
  • contextualized customer experiences across touchpoints
  • sales efforts tied to buyers' processes
  • content-led marketing and customer interactions.

I won't dive into the details of the investments here. I'll leave that to the team at Forrester. My reason for listing them is to point out that those investments are the type that will, by and large, be led by marketing-engagement leaders. Technology solutions are becoming marketing tools. In a space where customer interaction is increasingly digital and where customers increasingly use key technologies, CMOs and CIOs are working outside their existing comfort zones. It only makes sense for them to do it together.

If you're a CIO and haven't become "best friends" with the CMO of your company – if you haven't learned how to speak the marketing language – I suggest that now would be a good time to start.

About the author: Rod Brooks is VP and CMO of PEMCO, a regional P&C insurer in the Pacific Northwest.