Big Data Critical to Customer-Centric Cultures: CMO Council Report

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

CMOs and CIOs may have more in common than they once thought: a new study from the CMO Council reports that both marketing and IT executives think big data is a key business advantage when it comes to developing a more customer-centric business.


According to the study, done is partnership with SAS, 40% of marketing respondents and 51% of IT respondents see big data as a critical factor enterprise-wide. Over 60% of both also agree that the incoming flood of information is both an obstacle and an opportunity. Why? Over half of marketers (52%) and 45% of IT pros think functional silos block aggregation of data throughout the organization.


The good thing is that marketing and IT may be more aligned than many believed: 41% of marketers and 39% of IT execs see alignment in their organization, although there are still challenges to overcome.


“In this age of digital engagement, it is easy to see how the roles of the CMO and CIO are intertwined,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council in a statement. “But the relationship has evolved beyond platforms and processes and has become solidified over the data needs of the organization. Separately, the two roles can devolve into bickering over budget, ownership and governance. But aligned and coupled, these two roles become silo-busters, with the ultimate goal of enabling enterprise-wide customer centricity.”


What do both sides want? A strategic partner that will come to the table with initiatives to advance customer centricity was cited as important by 26% of marketing respondents.  Sixty-three percent of marketers also see the greatest value in better data gathering capabilities across the enterprise.


As for IT executives, 62% see marketing as a partner in advancing analytics and data-driven decision making throughout the enterprise. But they would like to be brought into the discussion earlier in the process to help form strategy, rather then just when its time to choose a platform (62%).



Both marketing and IT agree that what defines a customer-centric organization is a corporate culture that puts the customer at the center of everything. The commitment to this isn’t quite there yet though—only 31% of marketers and 33% of IT execs said this was the case in their organization.

The problem may be a lack of clear ownership of the customer: both CMOs and CIOs were split across the board on whether the CEO, CMO, sales or multiple functions owned the relationship. The lack of centralized customer ownership led 48% of marketers and 44% of IT executives to say they were only moderately confident in ability of the organization’s core touchpoints to reach and engage with the customer.


“Of all the C-suite executives, the CMO and CIO are most primed to drive customer-centricity throughout the organization,” said Wilson Raj, global customer intelligence director of SAS, in a statement. “The CMO and CIO must become comrades in gathering and analyzing data across the enterprise, and adopting technologies that anticipate, automate and accelerate customer engagements.”


Interestingly, for organizations that believe they have total partnership between marketing and IT, the CEO is the primary owner of the customer—not sales. In these firms, both marketing and IT are both highly satisfied with the organization’s ability to reach and engage the customer (42% of marketing/31% of IT).


These executives also agree that the lines of responsibility around customer-centric programs and big data are easy to define—marketing develops both the customer engagement strategy (80% of marketing/80% of IT) and the insights into customers and customer requirements (84% of marketing/65% of IT). Meanwhile, IT focuses on aggregating and delivering data from across the enterprise (64% of marketing/65% of IT).


The report features the results of an online survey in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, of 237 senior marketers and 210 senior IT executives. For more information, visit


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