Management Strategies

12:28 PM
Rod Brooks, PEMCO
Rod Brooks, PEMCO
Commentary
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With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up

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.

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.

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Rod Brooks
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Rod Brooks,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/14/2014 | 2:47:45 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
Yes Kelly. We frequently share executive sponsorship of projects between CIO and CMO. We are currently joint sponsors of the next generation of our .com site and our mobile deployment.
cmohlenhoff100
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cmohlenhoff100,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/27/2014 | 9:08:34 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
Agreed on all points, I just heard last week from a CIO who is working with their CMO on a BI Project. Technology is now allowing real-time collaboration on data that is deliverd via a BI tool, action is as easy as making a real-time comment on a report that can be shared across the enterprise or with select users - fast, real-time and it eliminates the report sharing, why did this happen and the email chain which is disconnected from the underlying data. Cover-All has this real-time sharing available today...
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 3:38:32 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
Interesting question, and I think only time will tell. It would be tough to choose just one. Perhaps marketing IT projects will require two leaders - one from marketing and another from IT - so there is an optimal combination of expertise from the two fields.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/27/2014 | 2:27:16 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
Right now, many marketing technology projects are being run outside of IT, or only partially in IT. This will set up an interesting battle down the road. As marketing IT projects get bigger and need more resources, who controls them? The IT group that has experience managing large deployments, or the marketing group that has the marketing know how?
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/24/2014 | 8:29:23 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
What do you think of the fact that personal lines insurance is such a big TV advertiser? Is there an opening for smarter companies to attack the market through new channels in a savvier way, instead of trying to compete with the big budgets of the biggest insurers?
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
1/23/2014 | 3:25:43 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
The reality is that marketing is now a technology-based function, no different in that regard from underwriting, claims, lending, etc. Marketing best practices are evolving so quickly that any marketing professionals inclined to dig in their heels and cling to the old, more subjective and "analog" approaches, probably retired or left the profession a while ago. The current generation of marketing professionals lives and breathes digital, analytics, multi-channel, etc. Still, as Jon points out, deploying these capabilities takes both significant investment in tools, systems and infrastructure, but also significant cultural change in terms of leadership, priorities and collaboration.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
1/23/2014 | 2:28:12 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
I recall writing about the gradual mix of business and IT departments a few weeks ago and wasn't surprised to learn that CIOs and CMOs are working more closely together. It seems like all company departments that previously had little to do with technology are getting more and more of a tech influence.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
1/23/2014 | 2:08:30 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
This is definitely a trend I've been hearing a lot about; the blending of the CIO/CMO roles. It seems going forward, CIOs will need to have a bit of marketing savvy in their skill set.
AGIA
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AGIA,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/22/2014 | 9:05:48 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
In the past, marketing was about the four Ps. Today, marketing strategy is about delivering smart content to help leaders innovate and grow their businesses. Audience fragmentation, social media and, more recently, Big Data, have changed the rules of content marketing. In sharp contrast with the strategies of a few years ago, influencer engagement and a solid mobile strategy are now emerging as the keys to success in this arena requiring the CMO and CIO to work togehter like never before.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
1/22/2014 | 5:55:42 PM
re: With Customers in Control, CIOs and CMOs Must Team Up
The real-time actionable data-sharing is a tough goal to accomplish. It takes a lot of focus for teams to step back from their day-to-day work and drill into a back-end project like integrating data. Leadership has to step up and make it a real priority.
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