Jerome K. Jerome's classic novel chronicled the journey of three friends in a boat.
In today's digital world, a brand needs the Chief Marketing, Chief Information, and Chief Human Resources Officers sailing together to survive.
Much has already been written about the need for CMO and CIO alignment. And for good reason.
In a digital age, marketing needs digital tools to communicate and connect with customers. And with the big data explosion, customers can be tracked and profiled, and marketing effectiveness measured, as never before. Once the epitome of a dark art, marketing shows every sign of becoming a science.
No wonder Gartner predicted that CMOs would spend more on technology than CIOs by 2017.
Yet ironically, these same forces require brands to become more human.
In a connected world, the increasing variety and frequency of interactions between brand and customer have put the behaviors of the brand on show. Customers can now sense what the company behind the brand is really like.
Where once advertising could define a brand, now the sum of these interactions (and the sharing of them through social networks) form the brand identity. Revealed by its behaviors, it's the company culture that defines the brand.
Consequently, the CMO also needs to work with the CHRO to shape the culture, so that everyone lives and breathes the brand.
This is hard and time-consuming work. It requires a clear sense of purpose to be established for the brand, that motivates employees and customers alike. It requires this to be hard-wired into the company's policies and processes, so that it can be delivered day-in, day-out.
And perhaps, most of all, it requires employees and customers alike to be treated as people, so that they can interact naturally.
This may not have the glamor of shiny new digital tools. But without their HR colleagues, the CMO-CIO axis risks building brands that customers sense are not genuine.
Far better for all three "C's" to be onboard together...