April 8th, 2013 by Kelly Liyakasa

Marketing and IT agree on something – in the race to create a “customer-centric” culture within their respective companies, there is still a bit of a culture clash.

“Big Data’s Biggest Role: Aligning the CMO & CIO,” a study commissioned by The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council on behalf of software and analytics company SAS, sought to demystify the dynamic between marketers and their technically inclined counterparts, information technology professionals.

Disclaimer: A) I normally don’t report on vendor-sponsored surveys/infographics/cartoons/videos (but keep them coming, I am at the very least entertained by them.) B) This one was packed with eye-opening stats. C) This is a blog, so…

The results of an online survey of 237 senior marketing and 210 senior IT executives can be summed up by this – the enterprise realizes the benefits of a customer-centric culture. In achieving that customer-centric culture, 40 percent of marketers and 51 percent of IT executives see big data as a critical component to getting there.

But, roadblock alert! More than half of marketing professionals – and a solid 45 percent of IT – feel “functional siloes” obstruct their ability to fully aggregate data across an organization to go as far they wish they could in building out comprehensive customer profiles. This is where there is an apparent divide between intent and execution.

In addition to the 52 percent of marketers who said functional siloes were the key challenge to true customer centricity, 39 percent said corporate culture was simply not aligned around the needs of the customer; 35 percent said they were missing the key technologies needed to manage data and customer profiles. At times, marketing felt IT was too involved in other needs of the enterprise to properly collaborate on customer initiatives. But, IT believes marketing should be the chief architect of “customer engagement” strategies, so the breakdown appears to occur when the realities of people, process, and technology intertwine.

There is also an apparent breakdown when it comes to who “owns” the customer (although, I’m assuming this means “takes responsibility” for customer strategies because “own” sounds so…possessive.) In most organizations, sales, at 19 percent, had control of the customer. Second to sales was the CEO/president, at 18 percent.

Thirdly was the chief marketing officer, at 18 percent, followed by the 14 percent who said customer ownership was undefined and spread across multiple departments and functions. This begged the question – why did C-level executives such as chief customer officers fail to rank as high as account managers in the area of customer “ownership?”

The key point here, I think, is that the buyer is less defined and organizations are, at times, grasping what they’ve always held on to in order to hold on to the customer. But, in dealing with the always-connected consumer/company/client, the key here is not to try and hold on by any means possible. Said consumer/company/client could easily move elsewhere if the pressure or disorganization is too high. The key is to change your organization and for everyone to take responsibility. And that starts at the top.

And this, not surprisingly, is where marketing and IT really agree – 76 percent and 69 percent, respectively, said working in a corporate culture that places the customer at the center of the relationship, business model, etc., was viewed as the key to success in achieving customer centricity.

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