CMO verses CIO: Three Ways to Move from Costly Clashes to Profitable Collaboration

February 23, 2015  
More than 37% of CMOs expect digital marketing to grow to 75% of their marketing budgets over the next five years, according to a CMO study by Accenture. The vast buildup of online commerce industries are seeing has shifted the marketer’s role from one of top-down branding expert to digital curator of data-rich customer interactions and engagement.  This growing trend is forcing CIOs and CMOs to become both collaborators and enablers of each other’s goals and processes.  Unfortunately, the legacy of separate roles and responsibilities can delay any potential gains an organization could receive from this new, digital-age partnership. 

"Digital data is the driver behind marketers’ increasing appetite for technology and underlies tensions between the CMO and CIO. "
    – Michael Krigsman, Co-Founder of CxO Talks, in a recent article for ZDNet. 

Conflicts arise when CIOs — who tend to follow traditional development methodologies — are viewed as slow or unresponsive to rapidly changing digital marketing requirements. This often leads CMOs to purchase technology solutions outside the broader corporate governance and security view of the CIO, aka “Shadow IT.”   

Despite the problems this rogue behavior can lead to, this clash can serve as the impetus for aligning CIO and CMO perspectives. There are several ways to foster better collaboration, including:

1. Shift functional goals to business outcomes. Data-driven companies are 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than non-data driven companies.   It’s critical for CIOs and CMOs to be aligned on revenue growth and ROI targets in order to maximize the profitability of digitally driven growth.

2. Have a bi-modal IT mandate. Add enabling, innovative, customer-focused and revenue-generating solutions to the historical IT tasks of managing cost and security of enterprise infrastructure. By taking on this mandate, the CIO can prevent Shadow IT adoption and elevate the CIO’s role in business to one of strategy development.   

3. Position marketing as a technical discipline. As Aman Bhutani stressed in an interview for Finding the CIMO Perspective report, “Marketing leaders have to realize that creativity is always going to be important, but they also need to understand analytics.” CMOs must broaden their view outside of optimizing marketing efficiencies and partner with technology executives (CTOs and CIOs) to maximize investment in digital business strategies.   

Breaking through organizational silos and aligning focus on consumer preferences and needs is the basic tenet of a profitable growth strategy. CIOs and CMOs jointly aligned to this mission will be better positioned to exploit the revenue potential of digital marketing investments. 

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