"Digital transformation" has been at the top of corporate agendas over the last 12 months. Sitting right at the heart of the issue, the CIO is playing a crucial role in establishing the digital infrastructure that supports the entire organization and its needs.

Of the many operational areas that make up an organization, marketing has been a priority area for digital transformation. Moreover, CEOs are putting a mandate on chief marketers to improve customer experience.

Customer demands and expectations are ever-increasing

Today's consumers demand to be recognized as the unique individuals that they are. So, throughout the entire customer journey, each touchpoint needs to be personalized and based on real-time intelligence.

Customers now guide the entire business ecosystem through their expectation of technology being invisible to their experience.

Though the responsibility of delivering on a seamless brand promise is in the CMO's court, the CIO's role is to ensure the digital infrastructure is in place to make it happen. Behind the scenes are a million little processes that need to come together in seamless integrations for omnichannel access, personalized content, relevant offers, and more—all provided in the moment.

Moreover, our increasingly connected society has shifted digital marketing from a transactional exchange to a holistic customer experience. The role of the CIO has expanded to accommodate that change.

The CIO (alongside the CMO) now plays a leading role in considering, designing, and actualizing an effective digital platform that can meet these needs. However, the role does not stop there.

1. Improving collaboration

Delivering a consistently tailored service across all channels also relies on each employee being equipped with complete transparency about a customer's previous interactions with the brand. We call this a relationship "beyond the login."

Many companies fail to share information about customer interactions with the appropriate employees, which creates negative consequences. That oversight results in lengthy hand-offs that can leave customers unnecessarily repeating information or answering the same questions.

At one point, everyone has called an organization, been greeted by an automated system that prompts for personal information and, when transferred, been asked for the same information again by the live customer service representative. Sometimes, the call ends there, but often the call gets transferred again and forces the caller to endure a similar process.

The solution is to give every relevant employee with the appropriate (and consensual) customer data the information needed to develop the customer relationship beyond the login. As such, the CIO's focus must be on ensuring that personnel have the right tools needed to collaborate and plan to meet increasing (future) needs based on business objectives.

2. Internalizing social tools

A key to success for today's CIO is the implementation of open collaboration environments, social engagement tools, and information exchanges based on "social business." Analyst firm Forrester defines this term as "an organization that removes barriers between individuals and information while making it easy for people to find and engage with those who can help them solve customer and business problems."

You may find that this approach falls out of the traditional scope of marketing but, in today's digital landscape, consumers increasingly expect real-time problem-solving as an integral part of their relationship with a brand.

As a result, internal users must have access to every tool and resource to do so. Customer-facing social technologies are already in mainstream use for lead generation, customer service, and brand identity.

Less common are the internal applications of social technology.

Focusing solely on external technology (without the context of internal user experience and capabilities needed for staff members to do their jobs) will cost organizations in the long run. Instead, technology roadmaps must provide systems of engagement to:

  • Surface fresh opportunities and in-house expertise
  • Accelerate productivity
  • Increase employee participation

The bottom line is that social channels are changing the way that companies work internally and interact with customers.

If the CIO does not engage socially, the technology—and organization—will pay the price. The future of social business technology is a means for employees to access the relationships and resources needed to facilitate interactions in all their possible combinations, both internally and externally.

3. Breaking bad habits

Enterprise-class social tools help to eliminate habitual bad marketing habits, such as siloed employee contributions, static websites, and reliance on email for creative sharing. Those tools also provide a much-needed social information layer that can easily merge corporate information.

With the right architecture and use of relationships, in-house staff can access the most relevant resources faster and easier to provide the best possible digital customer experience.

By "going social" in terms of perspective, strategy, and technology workflows, the CIO becomes the hero who affects enterprise-wide digital transformation from the inside out.

* * *

Ultimately, the ideal scenario is that the CIO begins thinking like a marketer and understanding that social business is the new currency of effective team performance. When that happens, organizations will see their staff members more engaged than ever and creative collaboration improve. Moreover, the change will ensure that the business provides the enhanced, seamless experience that consumers expect.

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Successful CIOs Are Evolving Into Digital Marketing Heroes

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image of Kevin Cochrane

Kevin Cochrane is CMO of Jahia, a digital experience management provider.

LinkedIn: Kevin Cochrane