4 Practical Ways To Strengthen CIO-CMO Bond

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 04, 2015

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Companies are realizing that the relationship between the CIO and CMO is increasingly becoming important to business success. Despite the realization, a gap continues to exist between the two C-suite executives due to lack of collaboration.  A recent IBM’s global C-suite study, which polled 4,183 C-suite executives from 70 countries and across 19 major industries, notes that 84% of CMOs, up from 74% in 2011, said they felt unprepared to deal with the onslaught of data that was headed their way. There are often conflicts in the role and their clarity in the C-suite. Researchers however realize some ways to improve the CMO-CIO collaboration for greater success of their organization. Here are a few ways to bridge the existing gap between the two powerful C-level decision makers.

1.  More meetings, greater transparency

According to the survey, CIOs and CMOs will need to clarify roles and responsibilities, lead digital transformation with mobile strategies, and leverage data for immediate business opportunities in order to effectively work together. As Rajesh Kumar, CMO, SAP India notes that “for marketing to partner with IT and vice versa probably requires a mind-shift.”

The CMO and CIO must bring transparency to the process. Not only must they sit down at the start to define data-use requirements with precision, but they must also meet regularly biweekly or monthly to review progress and keep the effort on track. Each quarter, they should have a frank discussion about the CMO–CIO relationship and how to strengthen and sustain it, says the study.

The CIO and CMO should have a structured and rigid meeting schedule so that they can learn from each other, incorporate input from both sides not only generates a well-rounded plan with integrated execution, and thereby have a commonly devised goal.

2. Be “Customer-centric”

At the end of the day, it’s important for both parties to remember that the customer comes first.  In fact, it’s quite likely that, at least on this point, your CMO and CIO already agree.

“Developing a mature collaboration between the CMO and CIO can ultimately lead to a sharper focus on the customer and deliver a better experience,” said Suzanne Kounkel, principal, Deloitte Consulting. A recent Deloitte study on CIO-CMO collaboration showed that shared vision between the two enables customer focus. The CMOs can obtain the tools they need to effectively and efficiently build the right customer experience. Kounkel believes that a mature relationship between CMO-CIO shapes stronger consumer engagement and customer-focused initiatives designed to drive sales and CMOs and CIOs can guide their business operations into the next generation.

3. Hire IT and marketing ‘translators’

For CMOs and CIOs to have the right balance between business and technology, what each needs to do is hire “translators,” says a McKinsey study. In other words, hire someone who understands customers and business needs but speaks the language of IT. “The CIO needs to hire technical people with a strong grounding in marketing campaigns and the business side,” says Matt Ariker, co-author of the report. He says business-solution architects, for example, put all the discovered data together and organize them so that they’re ready to analyze. They structure the data so they can be queried in meaningful ways and appropriate time frames by all relevant users.

4. Celebrate your success

When you implement a solution with the help of IT, or successfully overcome a specific challenge, celebrate it, mentions Victoria Godfrey, CMO at Avention in his blog. “Call out specific team members from both departments that played an integral role in the project. Highlight the reasons why the solution helps advance overall business goals, not just marketing or IT priorities. Send an email to the C-suite explaining how you overcame a challenge by collaborating.”

Doing so will help foster a spirit of collaboration between the marketing and IT teams, as well as the other departments. It will also position both CMO and CIO as organizational leaders who understand how to best combine strategy and tech skills to achieve business results - an imperative for companies today, he sums up.