What CIOs and CMOs can learn from each other

Want to build a more customer-centric IT team? Your CMO can be a great resource. Consider these lessons, which benefit CIOs and CMOs
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It used to be that CIOs were strictly concerned with the technical nuts and bolts of product development. That’s no longer the case. With IT becoming more of a revenue driver for organizations, CIOs are asking their teams to take a customer-first approach to application development and design.

What customers want and how they get it can change quickly.

The problem is, what customers want and how they get it can change quickly. For example, a person’s buying patterns during the holidays are probably different in the spring. How they buy can change, too, sometimes during a single transaction – for instance, a person might start a purchase on their desktop PC but eventually click “buy” on their mobile device.

Customers are complicated. Your team needs help developing applications that meet customers wherever they are on their buying journey. And you need help creating a truly customer-centric IT organization.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

For that, there’s no better person to turn to than your chief marketing officer. Modern CMOs have deep expertise that can help you build better customer-first software – and you have insights that can help them become better marketers.

What the CIO can learn from the CMO

Marketing in 2021 is much different than it was even a few years ago. Traditionally, companies would undertake periodic market intelligence projects analyzing the way customers interact with entire brands. Today, marketing takes place in real-time and is much more targeted.

Transformational CMOs are creating unique journey maps and personas for each customer. The former is a visual representation of a customer’s interactions with your company (specifically during the purchasing process), while the latter provides a detailed perspective on a customer’s likes, dislikes, and interests. Both can be updated in real time to create a live look at a customer’s changing proclivities. 

Transformational CMOs are creating unique journey maps and personas for each customer, updating them in real time to create a live look at a customer’s changing proclivities.

This data is like gold for a customer-first IT organization. Your team can use these assets to customize applications with features that will appeal to the customer personas that matter most to your company. That could mean developing multiple variations of an application to appeal to different potential buyers, or it could help developers make the right adjustments and updates to applications based on shifting customer behavioral and buying patterns.

Again, people are complicated, and each person might have multiple personas. Your CMO can provide you with information to decipher these personas and develop applications that meet a wide variety of needs.

Journey maps can help you focus your development efforts on the platforms that deliver better value to your customers. For instance, a journey map may indicate that as a customer gets further along in their purchasing decision, they may put something in a shopping cart on their mobile phone but complete their purchase on a web browser (or vice versa).

That invaluable information can help your team deliver better customer experiences across different channels and platforms. Perhaps customers dropping out of the mobile app indicate the need for an improved user experience. Or maybe a certain persona is simply more likely to use a traditional website for purchasing.

Either way, your team will have a better idea of how customers are likely to interact with your company, and you can better target your development efforts to make the most out of those interactions. You can leverage analytics-based marketing research to transform into a customer-focused chief innovation officer.

 [ Are your digital transformation metrics up to date? Read also: 10 digital transformation metrics to measure success in 2021. ]

What the CMO can learn from the CIO

Information-sharing is a two-way street. To that end, there’s a lot your CMO can learn from you and your development team that will help them develop more effective marketing campaigns.

Your team is in a great position to tell if something isn’t working for customers. You may notice that customers aren’t using a certain feature, or that they’re bouncing out of an application or off a web page after short sessions. Clearly, something’s not resonating with those customers.

Assuming there are no technical issues – push that feedback up to your CMO. Let them know you’re seeing some red flags they’ll want to look into. After adjustments are made, closely monitor user interactions with the application to see if things improve. If they do not, let the CMO know – again. Marketing, like development, is all about making frequent and agile adjustments.

Think of Conway’s Law – the idea that the applications IT organizations produce mirror the organizations’ organizational charts. According to Conway’s Law, everyone involved in the creation of an application puts their own stamp on that application.

Now, extrapolate that concept to the way IT works with marketing. Your IT organization can make improvements to solutions based on what you learn from your CMO, but you can also provide that CMO with valuable feedback that can help them attract more customers. Everyone adds their own perspective, creating a virtuous cycle that benefits all parties – you and your team, your CMO and marketing department, and most importantly, your customers.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

Patrick Sheridan is co-founder and managing partner of Modus Create. Pat is focused on the intersection of design, technology, and business. He saw the need for a high-end product consulting firm built with open source team design and the concept for Modus Create was born.

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