Will CIO-CMO Bonding Grow Stronger In 2015?

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 16, 2015

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Over the past 2-3 years, there have been plenty of discussions, debates, workshops and reports on whether CIO and CMO should collaborate and how they can work better. While things have improved from the past, when marketing and IT were like oil and water, there’s reportedly a gap when it comes to the two powerhouses working together. The scenario might improve in 2015, believe experts. According to them, with the rise of digital technologies and a focus on customer-centric growth, the ‘bonding’ between the company’s CIO and CMO will finally mature, and become more consolidated this year.

Research firm Gartner for example notes that increasing marketing technology investments are demanding more involvement from IT leaders to enable marketing to achieve full business value. Kimberly Collins, research vice president at Gartner says, “IT leaders supporting marketing will need to develop a strong relationship with marketing leaders to help marketing derive the full potential from its IT investments.”

Gartner also predicts that CIOs who build strong relationships with CMOs will drive a 25 percent improvement in return on marketing technology investment.

Digital to drive the change

As more companies go through digital transformation, they witness a change in the business model – something which impacts both CIO and the CMO. Experts believe to leverage this digital transformation, CMOs should take a more expansive view of strategy, process, and business model changes that affect the organization as a whole.

“While Some CMOs can make the leap to digital business strategist, others will find their company hiring a Chief Digital Officer to play this role,” notes IT analyst Michael Krigsman in his blog.

He also warns that CIOs who do not make the transition from infrastructure focus to innovation and solutions provider risk becoming marginalized. “The challenge before CIOs is developing the skills, relationships, and credibility needed to participate in conversations about overall business strategy rather than remaining confined to technical and support matters,” he mentions.

A recent McKinsey article notes that setting clearly defined goals often lead to success in the CIO-CMO relationship. “When you’re looking for a needle in a haystack of big data, you really need to know what a needle looks like.  With a specific and shared target in mind, the marketing and IT teams will be forced to work together. Marketing and IT must share accountability to get the job done right,”say the authors.

The McKinsey article states that CIO-CMO relationship has no other way out but function smoothly in a world, where the volume of data is growing at least 40 percent a year, with ever-increasing variety and velocity.

Compelling customer experience

CMOs and CIOs must also work together to deliver compelling customer experiences, believe experts.Through 2018, customer initiatives that don’t share data across the enterprise will compromise customer satisfaction and loyalty measures by 30 percent.

As Corinne Sklar, Global CMO at Bluewolf explains, in the digital age, aligning around customer demand will help bring priorities and focus to the CMO and CIO relationship. And to drive customer engagement you need to deliver a consistent experience across all business units and departments – not just marketing and IT.

Another recent Forrester study sees that 2015 is the year of unprecedented customer power, worldwide, through mobile, social, and digital channels. With over 60 percent of CMOs and CIOs enjoying a relationship of mutual trust and respect, and over half of them deploying projects jointly Forrester sees that these are the companies that will establish competitive advantage.

Despite some differences therefore, it is digital and customer-centric initiatives that will prompt the CIO and CMO to come together and work like the best buddies like never before, believe experts.