How customer experience brands and technologists are collaborating for data-driven success

In a digital-first economy, collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is essential. Uncover how three pioneering brands across Asia Pacific are approaching this relationship for data-driven success.

The customer experience has been reimagined and reengineered in many sectors over the past 18 months, but it’s far from the only thing that’s being re-assessed - key C-suite relationships upon which great customer experiences are built have also been reprioritised.

With the digital economy set alight in 2020, it’s never been more important to get collaboration right between the CMOs responsible for brands and the CIOs managing the technology that connects them with customers.

“It’s clear both roles are eager to align,” says EY’s Customer, Growth and Marketing Practice Leader Janet Balis. “Alignment between the CMO and CIO is a condition of success, and this requires communication and trust.”

EY’s research shows this alignment is most critical in key areas, including technology architecture, data foundation (including security and privacy), scaling data (first- and second-party data strategies), human enablement and training, use case prioritisation based on actionable strategies, ROI and KPI metrics to gauge success, and a flexible operating model.

“It’s no secret that close collaboration between IT and marketing teams leads to more personalised customer experiences on digital channels, but the COVID-19 impact has made this level of partnership indispensable,” says Adobe’s CIO Cynthia Stoddard.

“Moving forward, CIOs need to think about the integrated tools and frameworks necessary to help their organisations effectively capture customer data, convert that data into valuable insights, and utilise those insights to shape a personalised and enhanced customer experience,” she adds.

There’s little doubt that the importance of customer data in a more volatile world is driving this newfound closeness. Marketing teams are typically the custodians of customer data, and three in five CMOs are looking to increase their data and analytics spending this year — just one indication of how critical CIOs are to their marketing counterparts.

Meanwhile, more than nine in 10 CIOs globally strongly agree that partnering with the CMO improves their organisation’s customer experience, while a similar number say it promotes innovation. Three in five CIOs now meet with their CMO weekly or more often.

But there’s one overriding reason for the increased impetus behind alignment, according to Adobe’s Vice-President of Marketing for APAC, Duncan Egan. “The companies that are aligned are going to get more things done that matter to the bottom line,” he told CMO magazine.

So how is collaboration between brand and technology owners driving business growth in our rebooted economy? A look at how three pioneering brands across Asia Pacific are approaching this relationship generates some universal insights.

Eternia’s culture of co-creation

Indian aluminium and copper manufacturer Hindalco, which is pushing into new, consumer-facing market segments, is redefining an industry based on the digital transformation of Eternia, its B2C aluminium window division.

From the beginning, technology has been an enabler for the brand, unifying the organisation with thousands of B2B fabricators and installers, as well as customers who ordered its products.

IT was involved from the outset, helping to design the end-to-end customer journey and in the process “changing the behaviour of a whole ecosystem,” according to Priten Bangdiwala, Senior Vice President and Head of Digital Platforms and IT-led Business Transformation at the parent Aditya Birla Group.

Bangdiwala sought a technology solution that could unite each sector of the industry along the customer journey, from supplier to manufacturer to customer, partnering with Adobe Commerce.

After the customer buys, the brand retains a connection via customer service and the warranty, building lifetime customer value. “You have to see digital as an enabler and multiplier,” Bangdiwala says. “Now it can become a revenue multiplier that was never there in the traditional business.”

The Aditya Birla Group has become good at “creating innovation in small pockets”, Eternia President and CEO Chandan Agrawal says.

“It’s an attitude of working together. You co-create. We work together. Our culture is seamless in the way we operate,” he says.

“The future going forward for Hindalco is to build businesses which are closer to the customer.”

Scaling first-party data with cross-functional teams at The 1

Another brand that’s getting closer to the customer is Thailand’s The 1, which has undergone a process of unifying customer data on one platform in its quest to become an agile, omnichannel “centre of life” platform.

The country’s premier loyalty program — with close to 18 million members — has undergone a three-year transformation program entailing the consolidation of customer data on a single data platform. The result being a real-time customer view that enables The 1 to send personalised messages at scale, triggered by past purchase history, customer segment and even geographic location.

Time-consuming data segmentation processes are now automated at scale, and The 1’s app, powered by Adobe and relaunched last year, puts personalised brand content in the pocket of customers, using gamified communications to help increase spending.

One campaign, targeting young parents, resulted in a 100 percent uplift compared with the control group by sending targeted messages catering to the changing needs of young parents and their children.

President of The 1, Ton Chirathivat, says the data is the “foundation” of the strategy, but implementing an agile, cross-functional operational structure — that sees team members from the business working alongside data, brand, customer experience and product representatives within audience-focused squads — has helped unlock success.

“You need to be obsessed with measuring performance,” Chirathivat says. “You need to be agile and you really need to organise yourself in a way that’s focused on particular customer experience or particular customer segments.”

He notes, “it would be very difficult to operate in traditional functions like before.”

Real-time means a good time at Telstra

According to Executive Director of Telstra Digital Jenni Barnett, Telstra has doubled down on its first-party data strategy over the past 18 months, collecting data from different sources, making it consumable and stitching it across assets to get a single, real-time view of the customer.

With 6.3 million website users, 4.3 million of whom use Telstra’s app, the telco — which is in the middle of a well-documented digital transformation — has a considerable amount of first-party data to play with.

The next step is using artificial intelligence to make personalisation more effective, according to Head of Digital Optimisation Emir Kazazic.

“It does take an organisation to power personalisation at scale,” he told the audience at Adobe Summit. “It’s no one team or area of the business.”

After getting its digital data foundations in order, implementing tag management and providing real-time analytics to staff, the telco is activating audiences in real-time and looking at machine learning and AI to develop and implement bespoke customer journeys to increase speed, relevance, and response rates.

By simplifying customer journeys and implementing scaled personalisation, incremental conversion rates have improved by up to 500 percent.

Brand owners and technologists have it all to play for in a data-driven world — and when they get the customer experience right, it leads inevitably to business growth.

Discover how first-party data can deliver first-rate experiences. Prepare for a world beyond third-party cookies now.