The acquisition of Eloqua is being portrayed as Oracle’s big push into the cloud. That’s certainly true, but in many ways the cloud is the least important part of this announcement. What’s really interesting is the market demands driving the acquisition, and that are also changing the roles of the CIO and CMO and traditional enterprise organizational structures.
The Eloqua acquisition is just another example of a broader trend impacting enterprises: the convergence of sales, marketing and customer care departments. As companies aim to provide a more seamless customer experience, they’re realizing they need visibility of every single customer engagement moment. The more engagement opportunities a company can capitalize on, the more products that customer will buy.
Achieving full integration across enterprise departments is easier said than done, though. Technically, it’s within grasp in large part because of the pioneering work by salesforce.com and others. But, for most companies, the bigger challenges will be cultural.
Companies will have to get used to the idea that no single department ‘owns’ the customer; instead, every individual must be enabled to own any customer engagement moment, however it may occur. Presently, too many of these moments are missed because they’re caught between functional siloes. As a result, customers become disengaged and revenue opportunities are lost.
But for every challenge, there is an opportunity. The CIO and CMO are poised to become a power couple in the C-suite of profitable companies going forward. The CIO will need to take responsibility for the free flow of customer data between departments. Effectively becoming Chief Interaction Officer, the CIO’s number one priority must be to arm all employees, irrespective of their role, to respond to customer demands.
CIOs will also benefit from thinking more like marketers, by focusing on the end-customer experience. Meanwhile, CMOs will work more closely with the CIO to unlock the value of data, technologies, and business processes, to drive customer intimacy and enhance the customer experience. This same dynamic will extend across sales and customer care functions, too – in fact, across every function of a profitable organization.
At the end of the day, customers are agnostic when it comes to the way they interface with a brand. They just expect to get what they want, when they want it. And enterprises need to deliver.
Integrated technology platforms are integral to companies making this shift. And cloud technology platforms will help them get there much faster than ever before. But the technology is just an enabler, not the end game. The far bigger question we should be asking is whether enterprises are ready for the cultural changes that this trend will bring.