Tech Companies, Meet Your New Best Customer

At Kara's Cupcakes in San Francisco, a customer uses the PayPal Here device to charge his purchase Photograph by Kim White/Paypal Via Bloomberg

Here’s an intriguing prediction: Market researcher Gartner estimates that by 2017 chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than their counterpart chief information officers. While this may come as a shock to a lot of technology companies, it doesn’t surprise me at all. In today’s digital world, consumers leave behind rich traces of data just going about their everyday lives. This creates an enormous pool of information marketers can exploit to grow their business. For this, marketers need technology. Lots of it, as Gartner’s conclusion proves.

What does this mean for marketers and technology companies?

The CMO’s unprecedented appetite for technology will force a much closer collaboration between the CMO and CIO. This will cause friction in many companies because CIOs tend to be focused on cost, risk, and process, whereas CMOs are mainly driven by revenue, growth, and innovation.

Some more customer-centric companies have found a way to bridge this gap by adding a new position to their C-suite—the chief customer officer. CCOs are responsible for developing the company’s customer strategy and orchestrating the entire customer experience across every aspect of the organization. They often have a CRM (customer relationship management) or customer intelligence background, which means they have experience deploying technology in marketing. According to the CCO Council, 329 U.S. companies now have a CCO. That number is only going to increase.

As CMOs’ tech-savvy younger siblings, many of today’s CCOs are perfect candidates for future CMO roles. Especially since tomorrow’s CMO will no longer be able to ignore the importance of data and technology in marketing.

For technology companies, marketing will become the most important “buying center” of the next decade. The smart tech companies will invest heavily in understanding the CMO, an audience they have not traditionally spent much time with. The smartest ones will also spend time with the people one, two, or three levels down on the org charts of the CMO and CCO to really “get” what these people are—or would love to be—working on, if only the technology companies would provide them with the necessary tools.

Today we can track who interacts with our business across every platform imaginable, how long they stay there, what they do, and where they go when they leave. Tomorrow we are only limited by our imaginations—and the technology available—and I don’t know of a single marketer who wouldn’t like even more digital horsepower at his or her disposal.

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