The Nasscom Martech Confluence 2015 held in Mumbai yesterday saw an interesting panel discussion on the changing relations between the CIO and CMO. The panel was headed by Jim Walsh, CTO of GLobalLogic and consisted of Shridhar Iyer, Head ( Custom Franchise) at Citibank, Jyotsana Makkar, CMO at Microsoft, Abraham Alapatt, Chief Innocation Officer and Head (Marketing) at Thomas Cook India.
Iyer was of the opinion that traditionally CMOs have been custodians of brands and marketeering while the CIO has been more of a cost centre; the one ensuring that systems are not breaking down. But, he opined, things have changed now. The reasons for change according to him were the variety and velocity of data these days. "The CMO is impatient to get data while the CIO wants to ensure that data is not in a jargon," he said. The other reason according to him are the rapid scale of digitization that have given everyone the ability to measure outcomes more quickly, which has further added to the pressure on both the CIO and CMO. The last reason is also that customer expectations have now changed, he said.
Makkar agreed that this was indeed the case. "On one hand, organizations are building digital transformation models; they are disrupting their own business and 'go-to-market strategies just so that they do not end up getting disrupted by changing scenarios. On the other hand, customers are hyper-adopting new technologies," she said.
The paradigm shift comes from the changing expectations of customers, said Alapatt. However, he did say that this did not mean that all companies require to go completely digital because of peer pressure. Giving the example of Thomas Cook, Alapatt said, "There are some highly tech-savvy customers. On the other hand, there are customers that are just starting getting used to technology. So, you need to keep both the processes going. The true challenge (for us) is to keep the traditional brick and mortar store as well as create a new digital model which keeps the same values."
According to him, any service-oriented business, especially in India, cannot afford to have a conflict of culture. "We have to service the customer at a level that they are comfortable with. You cannot push technology onto them so both ecosystems have to be vibrant," he said.
Makkar gave the examples of the adoption of smartphones being seen in the country as something that showed that consumers are more keen and willing to give a try to new technologies and new brands . Another example she gave was how hyper-local apps were disrupting the business of online stores, which by themselves were supposed to be a serious problem for brick and mortar stores. However, Iyer felt that adoption by consumers does not happen just because of peer pressure. According to him the main reason is that consumers are comfortable with the technology or service.
When asked by the moderator how a legacy company like Thomas Cook maintains the balance between traditional and digital services, Alapatt said that there would never be completely 100 per cent 'brick' or 'click' sales as the vast majority of consumers fall somewhere in the middle.
Iyer also agreed that it is usually always a combination of the two for services even in the banking sector and completely 'pure' transactions or customers were rare.
"Digital transformation is disrupting the entire business. Every CXO's role is getting redefined," opined Makkar, when asked by the moderator about her thoughts on the interplay between the IT and marketing sides of business. She gave the example of sales teams; according to her sales teams are increasingly approaching marketing teams to figure out how to do multi touch nurturing rather than just cold calling. "The CIO is increasingly looking at contributing to business strategy. the CEO, CMO and CIO are all coming together to shape business strategy," she said.
So how do you get people who have invested so much time in doing business a particular way to change their way of thought?
"The first thing is to not get the two models to compete with each other. Transactions can happen either way (either online or traditionally). If both processes feel that it is all about nurturing the company's growth then there is no conflict. If they compete then it is a recipe for disaster," opined Alapatt.