Guardian: is mobile the responsibility of the CIO or CMO?

Guardian: is mobile the responsibility of the CIO or CMO?

April 18th 2013

Among the chief information offiers (CIOs) questioned by Gartner in a study last year, mobile was forecast to be the most disruptive technology over the next 10 years - but the question over who 'owns' an organisation's mobile strategy is an issue of contention amongst IT and marketing departments.

While marketing might have won the battle with IT over who should run the website, chief marketing officers (CMOs) now need to build bridges with their IT counterparts to create the new consumer experiences and services they need. In addition, CMOs will need to monitor broader technology developments to identify possible business benefits and system integrations. Some of the marketing budget must move from ads to consumer support and will require an element of IT expenditure within it and CIOs will need to understand not just mobile but applications and IT systems.

Jay Patel, CEO of IMImobile agrees with this notion: "The increasingly active role of CMOs in technology reflects how technology decisions are becoming more important to revenue generation, rather than the productivity and cost optimisation issues CIOs have traditionally been focused on," He says this change brings up two immediate issues: "The challenge for both the CMO and CIO is to ensure that the budget allocated for mobile and big data systems reflects [the technology's] potential, and to ensure their suppliers are aligned with their revenue goals."

CMOs need to tread carefully and bear in mind that CIOs will be wrestling with legacy systems not designed with mobile in mind. Security will always be paramount, and it's a legitimate concern. Limited resources will limit what can be delivered and while it might be a popular pastime, but blaming IT won't help. CMOs and CIOs will need to work together to develop the business case for new investment.

Here are three important points to consider when building bridges between marketing and IT departments with mobile in mind:

1. Return on investment

ROI measurement will change. Quantifying the mobile element will depend on generating data about what consumers do, based on continuous measurement involving frequent and numerous collection points. The CMO will need to harvest and make sense of all this data – a major undertaking in itself. Forrester reported that few companies would exploit the gold mine of mobile data in 2013. CMOs will need a deep understanding of the mobile ecosystem to gain the benefits. A significant budget is spent on tools for analysis but relatively little on the analysts required to draw out the insight. They will also need to create digital performance teams that understand the new landscape and can translate data into information the wider organisation can understand.

2. Structures and silos

To make these changes successfully will require replacing silos with cross-functional teams and matrix management. One model which I have used successfully is to set up a cross-functional "hub", a virtual team pulling in skills from various departments to enable the co-ordination of mobile activity and sharing of knowledge across different parts of the business, while also nurturing future mobile talent. The hub members are the "spokes" – the essential links between their home teams and the mobile business. Mobile is all about the integration of marketing activities, and it's cross-cutting nature means getting it right is not just about skills but about attitudes as well.

This is an important consideration when you're hiring new people: Are they used to working across organisational boundaries? Do they really understand mobile as an integrator of the customer experience? Or do they see it as a technology? Do they think it's about creating great apps, or do they understand how mobile can add value to other channels? There's a culture-change job to be done with your existing people, too.

3. Managerial buy-in

You'll need to get the CEO and board on side – it takes commitment from the top to break down silos but it's essential or they just act as a brake on progress. The Havard Business Review's recent article found that this is no easy task, saying that boardroom buy-in is proving the main obstacle to implementing a comprehensive strategy.

While adapting to mobile requires a fundamental change for a brand, the CMO will need to enable involvement and commitment across the business to deliver a true mobile strategy that will have an impact on the whole organisation – not just marketing. In my view, the CMO, who is closest to understanding consumer behaviours, will need to become a change agent, leading the drive for organisational readiness for mobile.


About IMImobile

IMImobile enables organisations of all sizes and sectors to maximise the potential of mobile technologies to improve customer engagement. We believe that mobile will sit at the heart of customer engagement strategies for years to come.

By removing the barriers and complexities to create and deploy mobile-led customer engagement solutions as part of a multichannel framework, we provide software and services that helps organisations to improve customer experience, simplify business processes and enhance operational efficiency.

Our products and solutions built upon the IMIcloud act as an intelligent layer between existing IT systems and business processes to create,manage and launch services across mobile, digital and social communication channels.

Organisations that trust us to deliver smarter customer engagement include Vodafone, O2, Telefonica, Aircel, Airtel, EE, BSNL, AT&T, MTN, France Telecom, Centrica, Universal Music, Tata, the AA, the BBC and major financial institutions.

IMImobile is headquartered in London with offices in Hyderabad, Atlanta and Dubai and has 700 employees worldwide. IMImobile is quoted on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market with the TIDM code IMO.

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