The CIO/CMO Imperative

CMO: Numbers that Count

Technology is taking on an increasingly important role throughout organizations, and the marketing function is experiencing the most significant impact. The interdependencies between CIO and CMO roles are growing at a rapid pace. IDC predicts that “the CMO and the CIO will begin the year as functional peers and end the year as either friends or frenemies.”

In spite of the urgency around transitioning this relationship, many CMOs and CIOs that I speak to are struggling with how to establish a truly collaborative partnership. In order to better understand the CIO/CMO relationship, we conducted the CIO/CMO Partnership Survey, which compared CIO and CMO responses to a variety of questions. We found that currently, only 13% of CIOs have valued partnerships with CMOs, and 16% of CMOs have valued relationships with CIOs. Despite these somber figures, both sides feel that the alignment and collaboration of the two positions would yield better results. CMOs have a more positive view of their relationship with IT, with 42% saying it is excellent. On the other hand, only 38% of CIOs feel that their relationship with CMOs is excellent, but 41% believe that it will improve.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done, nearly 70% of CIOs already characterize their CMOs in a positive light when it comes to their role in technology decisions, with 36% viewing them as consultants, 24% as strategic advisors and 8% as risk assessors. CMOs have a similar view of their CIO counterparts, with 80% characterizing their CIOs role in a positive way – 31% as strategic advisors, 30% as consultants and 19% as risk assessors. One-fourth (26%) of CIOs view their CMO counterparts as rogue players, which is high (but perhaps not unusual for the CMO) when compared to a mere 6% of CMOs who view their CIOs as rogue players. However, 14% of CMOs do view their CIOs as a roadblock as compared to 6% of CIOs characterizing their CMOs in that way.

In order to provide a forum for CIOs and CMOs to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding this evolving partnership, we recently held an entire event around this topic called The CIO/CMO Agenda. This event was designed to determine whether these two executives speak a common language and showcase what a powerful partnership can accomplish. These conversations must continue because initiatives designed cooperatively by the IT and marketing sides of the house harness the greatest creativity and business value, and are far more likely to gain buy-in – and funding – from the CEO, and even the board.

What specific actions would you recommend to your peers in order to improve their relationship with the CIO and IT so that the partnership can drive business forward? And is the onus on the CMO to bridge the gap if one exists?

Source: CIO/CMO Partnership Survey, CIO, 2013

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