Transformative Times Call For Tighter CMO-CIO Ties

Marketing has always been a front-facing department, moving at breakneck speed to plan and implement new solutions. IT has traditionally worked behind the scenes, taking a more methodical enterprise approach.

So it’s no wonder that over the years there has been little collaboration between the two groups. But with digital transformation and adoption of so many emerging technologies and tools, it’s time for the two groups to form a tighter union that empowers a new paradigm for co-ownership of objectives, such as customer experience and revenue-generation programs.

Read the rest of the article on CMO.com

CMOs Partnering With CIOs Yield Mixed Results

While more and more CMOs we talk to are actively engaged in partnering with CIOs on projects ranging from enterprise digitization and martech adoption to customer experience and revenue-generation programs, many are frustrated with the results. 

Marketers certainly see the value in collaborating closely with IT leaders and their staff to meet department goals and objectives that can be positively impacted with enterprise data and predictive analytics techniques. In the process, they also understand that an IT team that understands marketing’s obstacles and challenges affords them an opportunity to become more active business partners. 

Based on recent client experiences, however, each side has a different perspective on why projects stall or fail, and what it takes to form a mutually beneficial relationship.

Read on: Reasons CMOs cite for failed partnerships and projects

Marketing: It’s time to make friends with IT. Here’s How.

Marketing and IT Become Friends.jpg

On August 6, 1991, marketing was changed forever by the birth of ‘Internet technology’. It was day one of the World Wide Web. The web would one day grow up to be the mechanism that not only gave the power of brand influence to the people, but inextricably connect marketing to IT.

The marketers we work with are well aware that their efforts can no longer be done without the support of technology. It’s odd, then, that marketing and IT are not more in-step with one another already. It’s time to move forward arm-in-arm.

Big Data is (Finally) Bringing IT and Marketing Together
Until the last few years, marketing could largely survive with limited interaction with IT. So long as IT kept the lights on, computers running and generated key business intelligence reports, marketing could work with their agencies and software providers largely independently.

Big data is changing all that. Today so much data is available within so many systems that batch reporting and third party SaaS is no longer sufficient. A rich, integrated view of the customer, using data inside and outside of an organization’s consumers is needed to compete.

The marketing team of a Fortune 100 telecommunications, media and entertainment (TME) company leveraged internal, open source and 3rd party data collaborating closely with their IT team to drastically improve price promotions with laser precision at the neighborhood block level. IT enabled marketing to allocate its existing media budget dollars more efficiently by and across regions as well as increase overall customer acquisition and shore up retention. It was a huge win. And it is exemplary marketing and IT collaboration.

Too many organizations still experience a chasm between marketing and IT collaboration. For your company’s survival, this has to change.

Find the common ground
There is often a fundamental disconnect between how marketing and IT approach projects. Let’s look at a customer experience project as an example that seeks to link an enterprise outcome of improving customer experience to measurable behaviors. This kind of outcome could require a complex solution that marketing thinks could be identified with a few key data points. But in actuality, IT may need to create feature-release parity across mobile platforms while improving quality through a technical framework that reduces labor hours or through “next-best actions” in a customer care setting using active decisioning.

Yes, that’s a lot to consider. And this level of detail to execute an IT-enabled marketing project is often the point of disconnection between marketing and IT. So, how do you reach across the void to collaborate more effectively with your IT team?

  1. Know what you’re asking for
    This seems obvious, but the traditional process of specifying requirements that IT executes on is too slow and not relevant in a big data/analytics environment where machine learning discovers correlations not surfaced by gathering requirements. Focus on outcomes such as how do I reduce churn or improve the targeting of my retention spend?

  2. Agree on measurable outcomes
    Understanding how you are going to keep score e.g., measure outcomes, enables the Marketing/IT collaboration to effectively evaluate candidate big data/analytic efforts. The team can quickly abandon insights that may seem valuable, but won't move the needle when measurable outcomes set the standard.
  3. Complementary strengths
    IT forces marketing to think systematically in order to achieve the outcome. Marketing forces IT to think about external benefits to the company. Work to each others strengths to  fully leverage these complementary skillsets to your mutual success and advantage.

Understanding how IT prioritizes their project portfolio
IT has to balance the maintenance of systems that keep the organization running with innovative projects that move the company into better competitive position. Ultimately, IT should have a portfolio managment concept, maintaining a “book of work” that looks across the organization to ensure projects are being completed in order of importance and urgency to the overall business’ success. That might mean the HR system overhaul that reduces new hire time from 8 weeks to 4 weeks because the company is shorthanded takes precedent over your customer experience proof of concept. Or a new billing system may more effectively capture existing revenue streams than the new stream you are trying to create and take priority.

One way to keep your projects a priority is by being a good IT partner, which means collaborating on outcomes and business cases. IT’s ability and interest in working with you increases when you help shape your projects for accelerated time-to-value and then partner effectively throughout execution by staying focused on the outcomes. In turn, your ability to leverage IT for marketing projects improves. In other words, that’s collaboration paying off. 

 

Why CIOs must work with marketing execs as healthcare consumerism takes hold

Originally published in Healthcare Data Management

Consumerism in healthcare is not yet at tsunami-level force, but it clearly represents an imminent and undeniable disruption in healthcare’s traditional business models.

It is only natural that this trend is putting tremendous pressure on heads of marketing. It is also challenging CIOs to bring their expertise to bear, and to clearly articulate the role IT can play as healthcare organizations seek to transform the way they engage with their customers.

Today, only 48 percent of healthcare payer customers get their insurance from their employer. As the employer-sponsored model gives way to direct purchasing by consumers, both payers and providers must pivot from a B2B to a B2C orientation. Health organizations, used to vying for the long-term loyalty of large organizations, must not only shift marketing dollars to focus on individuals, but also rethink the ways in which they gather, analyze and use information.

Other industries have gone through similar shifts that have forced tighter alignment between marketing and IT. The telecommunications, media and entertainment (TME) industry, which is still working its way through the turmoil of a major disruption, offers useful lessons for healthcare leadership.

Like healthcare, TME was somewhat complacent after a long stretch in which competition was relatively mild, demand inelastic and regulation supportive of the status quo. As technology changed and other industries set new standards for customer care, the operational and customer service shortcomings of the TME industry left them vulnerable to services like Netflix, Hulu and HBOGo that threatened to not only disintermediate them, but to expose their lack of compelling consumer experience and innovation.

TME companies quickly realized that leveraging a marketing-technology collaboration at the CMO-CIO level for new technology-driven, consumer-focused applications was essential to their ability to survive and thrive.

Healthcare has similarly entered a time when decades of B2B insurance models, fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement models and relatively captive customer populations are giving way to a much more B2C world, where attracting and retaining customers is just as important as quality, safety and outcomes. Healthcare and TME share overlap among the disruptive forces creating chaos on their markets and producing pressure to transform, including:

Differentiation: Healthcare consumers have a growing number of choices on both the payer and the provider side. Increasing transparency is making it much easier for them to effectively comparison shop. Relatively undifferentiated product offerings for newly empowered customers will be forced to compete primarily on price and face very low barriers to customer turnover.

Technology-driven disruption: Healthcare is facing massive technology disruptions and tectonic customer shifts that upend stability and threaten their competitive positions. New technologies like insurance exchanges, EMRs, patient portals, smartphones and big data analytics are fundamentally changing the way we understand risk, care quality, patient engagement and consumer experience in healthcare. Facing similar disruptions, TME CIOs focused on supporting data-driven marketing, becoming expert in combining and analyzing data from diverse sources (set-top boxes, billing, credit scores, etc.) to engage and retain consumers with relevant content and renewal offers.

Disruptive policy and new competition: Even prior to Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA), healthcare was an industry ripe for disruption. Healthcare spending consistently outpaced GDP, productivity improvements severely lag every other sector, and customer satisfaction and quality are consistently low. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a catalyst for change that is long overdue, and has spurred innovation, enabled comparison shopping, and sped up the competitive landscape. TME has faced similar challenges as the federal government changes regulatory policy, mergers disrupt the status quo, and new competitors enter the market.

Rise of consumerism: Consumers are now directly paying for more of their healthcare costs, both for the care itself and insurance coverage. As out-of-pocket costs rise, consumers expect an experience that is comparable to what they get in other sectors. Health plans and providers understand that they cannot afford to ignore this trend and must embrace it or be left behind.

Critical and costly technology upgrades: For years health insurers have sold their plans almost exclusively to employers. Re-engineering legacy systems to be consumer-centric and flexible enough to support rapid innovation will not be cheap or easy. Adapting to new mobile and web-based systems for conducting business and engaging members will also be difficult, but necessary.

The nexus of the solution to these challenges for TME is the strategic and tactical fusion of the Chief marketing officer (CMO) and the CIO. To attract and retain customers, healthcare organizations need the CMO to develop a deep understanding of the consumer and what moves them. To use technology to increase customer service, satisfaction and loyalty effectively, they need smart CIOs who are willing to innovate and cast aside old models.

CMOs understand changing customer needs and the opportunity that creates to boost sales, but the CIO is the only one who can bring those new solutions and modes of commerce and customer interaction to market for the company.

Neither technology nor marketing changes alone can effectively address these challenges.

Following is the advice from the trenches for healthcare CMOs and CIOs from their TME counterparts:

  • Build a roadmap around the key features customers are craving—transparency, ease of use, quality customer service and a mobile experience that they are used to receiving from other vendors.
  • The simpler the process, the more likely the customer will buy and repurchase.
  • Cost and coverage may be driving retention today, but technology will be the catalyst for true differentiation and brand loyalty.
  • Prioritize an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. Linking wearables, in-home devices and the like will create stickiness, connect you with customers in new ways and bring in rich behavioral data.
  • Consumers expect to interact with their institutions, make purchases, and consume information all in a seamless, mobile and secure environment.
  • Be willing to embrace new technologies and techniques that increase business agility. Consumers are used to fast, easy, frequent and high-quality updates, and you will need to leverage the cloud, agile development techniques and new types of vendor/partner relationships to meet expectations.
  • Make uncovering and acting on data insights a top priority. Have data analysts work directly within marketing teams, while CIOs help access and analyze bigger and better data sets across the organization to deliver insights for marketing to act upon as well as to measure.

CIOs have a lot of experience leading organizational change driven by new technology, whether it involves EMRs in healthcare or set-top boxes in TME. Marketing may be used to rolling out new ideas and campaigns across the organization, but supporting cross-functional technical change is an area of leadership for CIOs who are accustomed to building new skills across geographic areas and technical processes. Experience with this type of organizational development will be extremely valuable to the marketing department.

For its part, marketing will know the customer experience outcomes they seek. The CIO partner will be invaluable in providing the technical knowledge, experience and advisory to make the best technical decisions for the organization.