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CIOs and CMOs must join forces to win digital consumers

Tom Kaneshige | Oct. 16, 2014
Winning in the age of the digital consumer and the 'mobile moment' requires the CIO and the CMO to work together, Forrester CEO George Colony said at Dreamforce. Together, they can truly understand customer behavior and how customers use technology.

cio cmo thinkstock
Credit: Thinkstock

In today's business world, the digital consumer is all-powerful, marketing holds the keys to unlocking the "mobile moment," and the CIO must take on new skills in order to seize the business tech mantle. Make no mistake, we've entered an era on par with the greatest business transformations in U.S. history, says Forrester CEO George Colony.

"The CIO is in this game," Colony says, speaking to a jam-packed theatre at Dreamforce, the mega tech event in San Francisco this week.

The first part of the transformation is the power of the consumer.

Today's consumer has an unprecedented ability to make rapid online purchases, weigh and review products with peers, and buy products from anywhere in the world. In 2000, for instance, only 12 percent of consumers bought airline tickets online, but this jumped to 62 percent last year. Nearly a quarter of shoppers consult online reviews -- 14 percent consult friends -- before hitting the buy button. EIghteen percent of U.S. adults ordered from a website outside the United States in the last three months, according to Forrester.

Along with newfound power, the second part of the transformation is that the consumer is undergoing a mobile mind shift. Colony defines this as "The expectation that any desired info or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at your moment of need." Marketers need to fill these moments of need, or mobile moments, lest customers shun them.

"If you are there at the mobile moment, you win," Colony says. "If you are not there, they'll question you. If you are not there again, they'll drop you."

The problem is that winning in the age of the digital consumer and the mobile moment requires a plethora of customer-facing business technology, such as CRM, Web content management, ecommerce storefronts, marketing automation and customer analytics.

By 2017, nearly a third of all U.S. corporate and government tech purchases will be business technology, according to Forrester. Spending will rise by 10 percent or more per year, and business technology will comprise over half of new product purchases in 2015. In contrast, traditional IT spending will grow by only 2 percent to 4 percent per year through 2017.

"The CIO of one of the largest banks told me, 'I have unlimited budget for the BT (business technology) agenda," Colony says, adding that the CEO of the bank was afraid of missing the boat on business technology and losing customers.

Moreover, a company's most prized and complex technology -- the system of record, which includes customer data -- must become a system of engagement that anticipates mobile moments, Colony says. But CMOs are ill-equipped to handle business technology, let alone a system of engagement.


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