Bringing Marketing & IT Together to Design More Personalized Customer Experiences

Customer Marketing


During the development of our whitepaper “Designing a Marketing Organization for the Digital Age,” published by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBR-AS), Eduardo Conrado, executive vice president, Strategy & Innovation Office (and former chief marketing officer), Motorola Solutions, was interviewed. He spoke about how marketing and sales work together at Motorola Solutions to create meaningful customer experiences. Below is an excerpt from his interview. 

HBR-AS: What are the pressures you see falling on the marketing organization and how is it responding?

Conrado: Marketing has to assume the role of engaging with customers and employees. At the same time, as you drive communications channels outside and inside of the company, they tend to be more digital in nature. So by default, marketing has a duality of the traditional communications engagement role along with a technology role.

HBR-AS: So how is that affecting the structure of the marketing organization?

Conrado: In some companies you see marketing and IT combined, as we did at Motorola Solutions. In other cases, you see marketing and IT working together. If there is a lack of leadership or knowledge-sharing between the CIO and CMO (in terms of CIOs being more customer-facing and CMOs being digitally savvy), and if you see the Chief Digital Officer role being created, it means the CMO or CIO is not stepping up to his/her role.

HBR-AS: Can you tell me the story about how you assumed both the IT and marketing roles and how that came to pass?

Conrado: When I was CMO, we had digital marketing teams, but the digital implementations ran through an IT development team. It made more sense if we had those teams tightly linked. So during conversations with the CIO, we decided to combine the teams into one, reporting into my organization. The strategy and the actual implementation go hand-in-hand. In order to make the IT department more customer-facing, it would need to go through marketing or sales. I already had a passion for and knowledge of the IT component, so I picked it up.

HBR-AS: What was the customer experience before you made this combination and what is it like now?

Conrado: We’re in the process of building it out. I will tell you that investments are being made based upon functional priorities. Before the teams were combined, we had websites for each of the customer transaction types. Now we have a more holistic view of the customer as the information flows across the organization. That allows us to break down what the customer is trying to accomplish by customer type. Then we can identify and repair any broken systems within the company to improve their experience.

HBR-AS: Is it a single experience because it’s all online in one website?

Conrado: What we’re building is a way to define what the customer is trying to accomplish and how to make it easier to do it digitally. Going back to your earlier question, the CMO role is evolving from being marketing communications to actually heading up technology-enabled customer interactions. The role of the CMO should morph, depending on the company. It could morph into impacting the way that technology gets deployed. It could morph into playing that role in terms of how the company shifts and defines user experience beyond just website design, reflecting a holistic view of design thinking.

HBR-AS: More of the selling process is done online through content, which is more of a marketing role than a sales role. How is that changing things?

Conrado: It really didn’t change that much. I think we got the teams to work a little bit closer together. As you bring in conversations that take place between sales, marketing, and IT around the customer, then those pieces have to work closer together by default.

HBR-AS: So they’re just working closer together or how does it reflect that more of the customer journey is managed by marketing?

Conrado: No, marketing is just one part of it. Sales also has a big role to play. It doesn’t change the relationship between marketing and sales in terms of what the teams do, rather it broadens the conversations that marketing and sales can have together.

HBR-AS: There is a lot of discussion around the traditional marketing role of creativity versus one now which is much more focused on predictive analytics. How do you see that skillset changing going forward?

Conrado: If you go back three decades, marketing was actually advertising, and creativity plays a big part in that. I still think there is a big creative element in terms of what marketing does to get the right message out. But now, with the complexity of the roles and the fact that you’re also adding technology to it, you’re adding data, and you’re adding insights based on that data, which is what analytics provides.

So the role of the CMO itself has become much more complex, along with the skills and the types of teams they oversee. When you look at the marketing department, you might still have a brand team and an advertising team, but then you also have a digital team as well as an insights team that has analytics within it. In the future, CMOs are going to have to be comfortable with technology and with the use of data for insight.

HBR-AS: So how is the marketing organization currently measured and how do you think that is going to change in the future?

Conrado: I think that companies measure customer engagement based on revenue growth. It is part of the sales organization, but ultimately, what are the programs marketing is putting in place to support that? There are some programs that you can attribute direct revenue to, but there are a lot of them where that’s not the case. If the marketing and sales teams work together with common goals, they will produce revenue growth.

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