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Marketing and IT: The perfect team for solving customer identity

The rise of smart devices has improved our lives, giving us improved communication and information at our fingertips. Today’s digital consumers are mobile and highly selective. They are looking for value and convenience in each interaction, and they are increasingly willing to trade information when they find it.

They are also connecting in new ways. Smart, connected devices, from familiar to futuristic and vast “systems of systems” are already generating an astounding amount of data that can add immense value for both businesses and customers.

For these reasons, customer experiences are best improved not by individual transactions, but by journeys that cross multiple digital and real-world touch points. Delivering a frictionless, trustworthy and reliable experience across devices and channels not only attracts users as they compare options, but helps to establish long-term, two-way customer relationships. Handling the volume, variety and velocity of data flowing in from the new digital marketplace has become one of the great challenges for IT staff in the age of internet-connected devices. The IoT also presents new challenges for IT’s back office, since security and privacy compliance issues are put under further scrutiny.

Recent research has found the UK population spends, on average, nearly three hours per day online on a smart device. While having an always-connected audience can benefit brands, many are struggling to understand their customers’ activity and get to grips with their identity online. In an age where personalisation is a necessity rather than a benefit, understanding customer data and identity is paramount to creating brand loyalty and trust. So who is responsible for this in a business today?

While technology can go a long way to solving this problem, it is vital an organisation’s CMO and CIO collaborate to understand each other’s needs. Marketers are the masters of creativity and persuasion. IT works hard to ensure all systems are protected and running properly so staff can deliver. IT staff need marketers to tell them which data is important, while marketers rely on IT’s expertise to ensure the data is collected and held securely in the first place.

Who Is Today’s CIO?

The CIO of today is a far cry from the tight-fisted software development leader for the mainframes of the 70’s and 80’s, or the installation and configuration expert that led the expansion to distributed servers of the 90’s. As little as ten years ago, the typical CIO was still focused almost entirely on IT infrastructure, access governance, data security and other operational concerns.

Now, we are in the age of the customer, with IT organisations increasingly leveraging cloud-based services for both software and data to deliver a better user experience while conserving resources. This reality has thrust the CIO into the business spotlight, and introduced plenty of new challenges.

Why CMOs need data

The key objective for marketing is reaching the right person with the right message at the right time. It is now widely acknowledged that customer experience is the new measure of competition, and getting it right is no longer a mere competitive advantage, but essential to an organisation’s success. Marketers go to great lengths to collect first-party data, such as encouraging social login registration and communication preferences. This enables brands to stop guessing and start forming customer identities.

First-party data also gives marketers the knowledge they need to create more complex and efficient strategies. Because it is knowingly provided by customers and negates the inaccuracy of third-party data, first-party data is permission based and abides consumer privacy laws, effectively establishing a trusted relationship between the business and the customer through a transparent, mutual value exchange.

This is why a business’s leaders – such as its CMO – are demanding new technologies that enable seamless, secure and value-packed relationships with their users, through product design and development as well as marketing, sales and service channels. These technologies need to be embraced by IT staff, as they eradicate the endless spreadsheets of disorganised customer information. Instead, IT can help the marketing department’s requirement of accessing rich, accurate customer data to succeed. These technologies, such as customer identity management systems, organise consumer data into clear customer identities.

Marketers can then use these identities to create engaging, personalised user experiences, with specialised functionality for campaigns, recommendations, analytics and content.

Relevancy and technology – a dream partnership

Keeping communications relevant can be the difference between a returning, loyal customer and a one-time shopper. In some cases, it may be more beneficial to simply not send any communications rather than ones that are too generic, and, in turn, irrelevant. Businesses cannot afford to get this aspect of marketing wrong, and marketers must work smarter to be consistently fresh, relevant and personal in their campaigns to avoid having their communications consigned to junk folders or discarded altogether. Yet this is sometimes impossible for the best of marketers, because their organisation’s IT department isn’t capturing and managing the right data.

The key to success is recognising the true value of consumer data, and establishing the partnerships and embracing the technology to make this a reality. Once IT staff know which data is relevant to developing consumer insights, they can make it accessible for marketers. Then it can be leveraged properly, to connect with both current and potential customers and used to build mutually beneficial relationships.

When the CMO collaborates with the CIO, their organisation or brand can effectively capture and securely hold consumer data to build clear customer identities, which helps to create loyalty and trust.

Richard Lack, Director of Sales EMEA at Gigya

Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak