(We're revisiting this article from a few years back so as to make the point regarding ownership of digital marketing...)
B2B companies, for instance, use key account managers and global account directors to focus on meeting customers’ evolving needs, rather than selling specific products. IBM organizes according to customer needs, such as energy efficiency or server consolidation, and coordinates its marketing efforts across products for a particular customer. Instead of focusing on short-term product sales, IBM measures the practice’s performance according to long-term customer metrics.
Large B2B firms are often advanced in their customer orientation, and some B2C companies are making notable progress. Increasingly, they view their customer relationships as evolving over time, and they may hand off customers to different parts of the organization selling different brands as their needs change.
Customer relationship management has been increasingly taken on by companies’ IT groups because of the technical capability CRM systems require, according to a Harte-Hanks survey of 300 companies in North America: 42% of companies report that CRM is managed by the IT group, 31% by sales, and only 9% by marketing. Yet CRM is, ultimately, a tool for gauging customer needs and behaviors—the new customer department’s central role. It makes little sense for the very data required to execute a customer-cultivation strategy to be collected and analyzed outside the customer department. Of course, bringing CRM into the customer department means bringing IT and analytic skills in as well.