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How Brinker International Makes CIO/CMO Collaboration Happen


Digital technology is disrupting the marketing function, creating new opportunities to connect with customers and positively impact the bottom line. Meanwhile, the bar of business expectations is getting higher, as CMOs face increased pressure to deliver quantifiable results.

Today, marketing executives need to expand their skill sets, develop new areas of expertise and continually monitor emerging trends and leading practices. To do that, they need to work more closely than ever with their counterparts in the IT organization.

But, how exactly does that CIO/CMO collaboration happen? What does it look like?

We asked Jorge Pederzini, Director of Global Marketing at Chili’s (part of Brinker International), to share his insights on how a tech-savvy CMO can bring the two functions together.

Softtek: How can marketing and IT teams best collaborate?

Jorge Pederzini: Marketing and IT teams should function as one big team with the same objectives and goals. Both teams should define those business goals together and understand the best way to accomplish them and should also clearly identify the role that each area plays into accomplishing them. It is clear that each area will have departmental KPIs that need to be met, but when a project begins it’s important to identify what is expected from each area related to the project, who owns each part of the project, how will success be measured and what potential actions will be taken in case of lack of progress to bring the project back to track.

Softtek: What’s the best way to structure and schedule meetings?

Jorge Pederzini: In my experience Marketing and IT teams should have weekly scheduled calls to review the progress of items, identify roadblocks and potential solutions and also plan activities for the next weeks. Those meetings should be formal and part of a project management process with a strong structure (clear agenda, meeting pre-reads, meeting objectives, follow ups, timelines etc..). In addition, these teams should also have the flexibility to meet at any time to address pressing issues that could affect the outcome of a project.

Softtek: What type of informal communication is needed?

Jorge Pederzini: Constant communication is key. Casual telephone calls, text messaging, or simply face to face discussions should happen on a regular basis in addition to scheduled calls. Openness and flexibility to this is extremely important.

Softtek: What does each side need to do to understand and appreciate the challenges and objectives of their colleagues?

Jorge Pederzini: Both areas need to really understand not only business motivations such as objectives, challenges and potential headwinds, but also personal motivations. To create a really strong relationship and collaborative environment, I recommend developing a strong personal relationship with your counterpart by having regular business lunches and other more casual out-of-the-office activities that foster trust and a deeper understanding of each other.

Jorge recognizes that it takes more than meetings to drive true collaboration. Indeed, when Softtek partnered with Chili’s to develop a global CRM system, we focused on ensuring that each side was aware of the other’s priorities and challenges. Here, empathy and a willingness to walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes are critical. The fact is, despite the growing integration of marketing and IT, the two functions are inherently different. Marketers are judged on their ability to boost the brand and create noise; CIOs are expected to keep things secure, organized and stable.

Citing these differences, a recent McKinsey report notes that today’s CMO/CIO partnerships are largely a “marriage of convenience” – implying that, under different circumstances, both partners might prefer to be with someone else.

At the same time, acknowledging and addressing that differences exist between marketers and IT people can actually facilitate CMO/CIO collaboration. By accounting for those differences, we can more effectively articulate our point of view, as well as more fully understand our colleagues’ position. In the process, we can develop more effective digital marketing initiatives and better address our shared goal of using marketing and technology to enhance the customer experience.

Softtek recently partnered with the CMO Club to conduct a survey of marketing executives of large global organizations. Read the full CMO Survey results here.

Chili's develops global CRM system




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