road sign traffic direction

This week, Internet Week New York (IWNY), an annual festival celebrating internet business and culture, was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, a few blocks from our office here in the Flatiron District. As always, it was an exiting event. The focus this year was on how technology has disrupted and revolutionized every section of business from food to fashion to health care and education.

Of particular interest was the Marketing + Technology Summit: The Rise of CMO-CIO Alignment, a half-day conference jointly sponsored by BtoB Magazine and sibling publication Advertising Age. The event featured a handful of leading marketers who discussed the changing, more tech-driven role of the CMO and the evolving relationship between marketing and IT, a necessary partnership in an increasingly data-driven world.

Nationwide CMO, Matthew Jachius, who presented along side Nationwide CIO, Michael Keller, stressed the importance of leveraging data as an “enterprise asset,” not “silo’d departmental assets.” Incorporating an integrated, more holistic approach to data management can provide a “360 degree view of the customer.” According to Keller, “if done right, it can create a competitive advantage.”

Many of the speakers focused on how marketers can build meaningful relationships with their CIOs. Sheryl Pattek, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, suggested marketers start with their customers, citing a Forrester report that found 60% of the B2B buying process is completed prior to sales engagement with a particular company.

How do prospects conduct research? What channels do they use at each stage? How can technology be used to enhance and customize this experience? “First you have to understand the buyer’s journey, then you determine your must-haves,” Pattek told attendees during her presentation. She also recommended including CIOs early on in the planning process, including establishing a formal timeline for implementation and measurement.

Marrying marketing and IT within a company is a topic Pattek is particularly familiar with. She recently outlined some best practices for marketers looking to build a strong, yet flexible, relationship with their company’s CIO.

Clearly, marketing is a more complex discipline than ever. At the same time, the opportunities for gaining meaningful insight into, and enhancing, the customer experience has never been greater. As the Marketing + Technology Summit showcased, marketers that are able to build meaningful partnerships their IT departments and successfully tap into the right technologies will create inimitable advantages over their competitors.