Surely you know the song Happy Together – the 1967 chart-topper by the Turtles that ultimately became the band’s only No. 1 hit and its signature song. It’s one of those songs that defines the era of bands with creatively spelled animal names (Byrds, Monkees, Beatles).
On first listen, the song could be mistaken for a whimsical ditty, with its pop theme of angst-ridden love. But what gets me every time – and raises it to “classic” status — is how the first haunted, minor-key notes contrast irresistably with the cheery blast of the major-key chorus, and then move back to melancholy F minor. The clincher is at the end: “Happy together, happy together,” threatening to fade out in the minor key, until at the very end, it shifts to a major chord. The song ends – literally – on a happy note.
For a pop tune, Happy Together does a pretty good job of describing how two isolated opposites – minor and major, “me and you” – become an entirely different and, frankly, more compelling entity when combined together. It brings to mind two entities that in the world of business, and particularly retail, should heed this lesson: the chief marketing and chief information officers.
CMOs are under intensive pressure to lead their businesses into the new age of personalized customer interactions, or “me-tail,” as I’ve described in a previous blog post. But designing a personalized customer experience that blends in-store, mobile and social channels means gathering and making sense – in real time — of the vast volumes of information generated through all those channels, as well as any other customer touchpoint. “Daunting” doesn’t even start to describe the universe of data we’re talking about. In the minute it’s taken you to read thus far, 72 hours of new video have been uploaded to YouTube, Google has received two million search queries, Facebook users have shared over 680,000 pieces of content, and Twitter users have sent over 100,000 tweets. And that’s just the data outside of the business – there’s even more locked inside the databases, applications and desktops inside the company’s walls. .
It’s safe to say that making sense of all this structured and unstructured data – not to mention selecting and managing the range of technologies to do it quickly, effectively and accurately – is not within the skill set or knowledge bank of most CMOs or their teams. They are, rightly, focused on customer loyalty and creating a personalized and blended social/mobile/in-store customer experience.
That’s where the CIO comes in. To the CIO and his team, this is a “big data” issue and an exciting challenge to take all that data and apply the analytics, database, in-memory, mobile, NFC, localization and other leading-edge technologies to shape it, derive meaningful insights and create new offerings with it.
I like how Jeff Roster, research VP at Gartner, puts it in a recent Stores magazine article: “As [CMOs] have taken on increasing responsibility for mining information in the social and mobile space, they have become more important inside the organization — and the need to sync up with the CIO is more apparent.”
The fact is, neither the CIO nor CMO can do this alone. The CIO is never going to drive the customer experience, and the CMO is never going to drive the technology strategy to make sense of big data. These are two entirely different worlds that make no sense apart – but together, they are greater than the sum of their parts.
It’s big data and customer experience. It’s the CIO and the CMO. “Me and you and you and me.”
Or as the Turtles would say:
Imagine how the world could be, so very fine
So happy together