Building a Bridge to the CMO


By Samuel Greengard

For many CIOs, a funny thing happened on the way to the digital revolution: it has become glaringly apparent that they are no longer masters of the IT universe. Gartner predicts that by 2017, CMOs will outspend CIOs on technology purchases. It would be an understatement to proclaim that a new order of IT is emerging.

Not surprisingly, many CIOs view all the change as a threat. On the other hand, many CMOs see all the change as an opportunity. Somewhere in the middle of all this is the in-your-face reality of changing roles, responsibilities, objectives and values.

One thing is certain: both sets of executives must find ways to work together more effectively, as this CIO Insight article points out. CIOs can start by recognizing the elevated role of the CMO. Marketing technology has advanced faster than other areas within the enterprise and organizations are increasingly reliant on these tools to spur innovation and usher in next-generation capabilities, including marketing clouds, advanced analytics and real-time marketing.

CMOs, on the other hand, must respect the need for enterprise processes, standards and security. Although IT can't stand in the way of progress (and it too often does in today's business environment), dissing the CIO and IT department can lead to massive disconnects and breakdowns. The organization may gain incremental functionality through new marketing technology, including shadow IT, but lose out on bigger and broader opportunities by failing to connect silos and digital dots.

In fact, as budgets, decision-making and responsibilities blur, there's a need to reassess everything. CIOs and CMOs benefit by adopting a collaborative approach. It's also critical to recognize that the organization requires different skill sets for a different era. Ultimately, IT must evolve beyond a dictatorial power that handles all IT decisions.

A recent Accenture report, The CMO-CIO Disconnect: Bridging the Gap to Seize the Digital Opportunity, snaps the overarching issues into sharp perspective. Success, it notes, spins a tight orbit around five key concepts:

  • Identify the CMO as the chief experience officer (CXO).
  • Accept IT as a strategic partner with marketing, not just a platform provider.
  • Agree on key business levers for marketing and IT alignment, such as access to customer data versus privacy and security.
  • Change the skill mix to ensure that both organizations are more marketing-savvy and tech-savvy.
  • Develop trust by doing just that—trusting.

Tell us about your efforts to bridge the CIO-CMO gap and create better IT-marketing alignment.


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