Forrester has just published 45 sets of 2015 predictions for every role we write about, from customer insights to application development to security and risk. In my role as Chief Research Officer, one thing is now clear to me: the two roles that matter most for 2015 are the CIO and the CMO (see our infographic below) — their relationship and joint strategy to boost the business will determine the future of any corporation.
CMOs historically focused narrowly on marketing and promotion. That’s not enough in the age of the customer. The CMO of 2015 must own the most important driver of business success — the customer experience — and represent the customer’s perspective in corporate strategy. Andy Childs at Paychex is a great example — he owns not only traditional marketing but strategic planning and M&A.
The CMO of 2015 must take charge of customer-centric innovation, starting with mobile and expanding out into every technology-enabled channel. In a world where customers can switch brands in an instant, the CMO must reach out through innovative products, processes, and connections to build a deeper, more loyal set of customer relationships. Unfortunately, only 22% of CMOs focus on customer retention as a top priority. We believe it’s time to make customer engagement a key success metric for the whole company.
Technology powers these changes, and that’s where the CIO comes in. CIOs that focus mostly on IT — keeping the systems running — will see their budgets cut and their positions marginalized. Successful CIOs instead will focus largely on the BT agenda — investments in technology that win, serve, and retain customers. This is an unfamiliar role for most CIOs. Customer-focused projects require real-time responsiveness and cloud architectures. They require a new perspective on data as a resource — like the sensor-enabled tractors whose data powers John Deere’s FarmSight Service. And as they pursue revenues, CIOs cannot take their eye off of security — in fact, we expect 60% of enterprises to experience a data breach next year, with the worst and most-publicized examples destroying years of brand value.
The true challenge for these CIOs and CMOs is to accomplish these goals together. Companies where the CIO and CMO work as a team enabling customer-focused technology — companies like Lego and Home Depot — will gain market share. But while more than 60% of CMOs and CIOs tell us they enjoy a relationship of mutual trust and respect, only 46% of marketing leaders and 51% of technology management leaders have a single view of their customer across all the company’s touchpoints. Half of CMOs and CIOs deploy projects jointly — these are the companies that will establish competitive advantage. The other half will get left behind.
The structural changes we’ve described are difficult. But as our analysts have predicted, 2015 will be a year of unprecedented customer power, worldwide, through mobile, social, and digital channels. Companies can expect competition to arrive from any angle. The only cure is an obsession with customers, driven from the top by the CIO and CMO. These two executives, by their relationship with each other and with the technologies they roll out to connect with customers, will determine the future of business.