The New Army of Two: the CMO and CIO

CIO CMO

According to this IBM survey, 70% of CMOs felt unready to handle the explosion of big data. Marketing is no longer just about the traditional tasks of generating creative and public relations. Instead, today’s CMO is very involved with data-centric marketing activities. CMOs use information and data to stay competitive and understand their customers more thoroughly.

Deloitte CMO David Redhill explains why a combination of information technology (IT) and marketing are key to winning business through thought leadership: “…the company’s reputation is enhanced when it is able to deliver a professional service that crosses the gamut of traditional accounting, knowledge-based consulting and strong digital analysis. And that, he says, is down to a strong mix of marketing and IT.”

CMOs now need to work much more closely with CIOs to make use of this data. Building new armies of two, by aligning the CMO and CIO, is viewed as so important that there are entire initiatives designed to advance this process.

CIOs’ Enhanced Responsibilities

CIOs have matched IT solutions with the company’s challenges; this ability is the reason they have seats at the C-level meetings. However, the scope of a CIO’s role is expanding beyond the traditional responsibilities of cost efficiencies and process optimization. CIOs need use their knowledge to influence product development and improving communication to potential customers. These two functions used to primarily be the marketers’ responsibilities; now, the CIO works together with the CMO in order to make smarter, metrics-based marketing decisions.

According to this IBM whitepaper (PDF), an overwhelming majority of CMOs cited market research, analytics, and customer feedback to be sources that influence strategy decisions. Each of these sources are affiliated with the CIO and the organization’s IT team. The buzz around “big data” and its potential applications toward advancing marketing and product decisions puts much weight on the CIO. When it all boils down, the CIO will have to help solve a major problem that CMOs aren’t typically equipped to deal with.

Capturing Marketing ROI

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker

While marketing resources and budgets were mysterious and extremely difficult to track in Wanamaker’s era, the advent of analytics solutions make it possible to gauge the success of marketing initiatives.

This type of analytics may seem as though it takes a lot of time and effort for marketers to collect; however, much of it may already be available within the organization’s IT department. As SAP’s Wilson Raj points out in this blog post, “52 percent of marketers and 45 percent of IT executives believe functional silos prevent the enterprise-wide aggregation of big data–thus hindering customer centricity.” In order to create the most precise measurement of marketing ROI, the CMO’s teams will need to collaborate with the CIO’s teams and gain access to the data that is so essential to this measurement’s success.

“We have the data to be able to see whether what we’re doing is resonating and how we can optimize it, but we don’t collect customer data from people who have purchased from us—the IT organization has that information,” writes Adobe’s SVP and CMO Ann Lewnes in eMarketer. “That’s what is drawing the CMO and CIO together more. Technology is very important from a marketing standpoint.”

To assist with the management of information and technology solutions, marketing departments have appointed their own technical roles. Known informally as “the CIO of Marketing,” or the “Chief Marketing Technologist,” this role involves making the final decisions with the marketing team’s IT budget and IT resources. For example, this chief marketing technologist would lead initiatives such as managing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions.

This role usually is a technology-centric marketer, and not a marketing-centric technologist. As Christiane Pütter writes for SAP, “In the Gartner survey, marketers described their IT colleagues as slow, unwilling to change, and fixed on costs. Marketers who made IT decisions found themselves, on the other hand, to be sales-driven, quick, and inspired by challenges.”

The Rise of the Chief Digital Officer

Not specific to the marketing department, technology research firm Gartner predicts the development of alternative role, the Chief Digital Officer, that will either work side-by-side with CMOs and CIOs, or will simply be the evolution of the CIO role.

Gartner predicts that companies’ technology spending outside of IT will increase to 90% of the total by 2015. Comparatively, at the turn of the millenium, technology spending outside of IT was at a mere 20%. 25% of organizations will have CDOs by 2015 in order to help them adapt to this drastic change in spending.

“The Chief Digital Officer plays in the place where the enterprise meets the customer, where the revenue is generated and the mission accomplished. They’re in charge of the digital business strategy. That’s a long way from running back office IT, and it’s full of opportunity,” writes David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Wall Street Journal guest contributor Irving Wladawsky-Berger agrees with Willis’ perspective, and believes that the rapid development of this new role creates many opportunities attractive to many of today’s current IT leaders and CIOs.

Leadership firm Russell Reynolds’ Rhys Grossman and Jana Rich defines the CDO role more specifically, emphasizing e-commerce and transactional expertise, online marketing and social media expertise, and transformative product and technology capabilities (e.g., making the transition from analog to digital), are keys to finding a CDO to get the job done. As you may have noticed, the first two fields of expertise are marketing-related and the final one is more of an IT-related responsibility.

Closing Thoughts

Whether it’s the CMO and the CIO becoming an army of two, or the rise of a new role like Chief Digital Officer, both fields of expertise are converging to tackle the same problems. (In fact, here’s a recent example of a CIO-turned-CMO.) CIOs’ responsibilities are expanding beyond simply solving IT problems, and CMOs’ abilities to gain insight and data require a hand from CIOs. This new army of two needs to cooperate and work together in order to usher this age of digital change; otherwise, they will fall behind.

Image Source: CIO/CMO Agenda Conference

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