The CMO-CIO Disconnect: Stronger Collaboration Drives Digital Success

Recent research shows that only one in every ten senior marketing and information technology executives believe that the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) – Chief Information Officer (CIO) relationship and collaboration is at the right level. The CMO and CIO -- who together control significant portions of the corporate budget to propel marketing and provide market research for products and services -- need to work together in order to drive success in the rapidly evolving digital age. So why the disconnect, and what can be done about it?

Integration of the CMO and CIO roles is crucial in order to create a more meaningful, impactful experience for customers, which will lead to greater sales and revenue. The research provides clear insight into the underlying issues and recommendations for taking the steps toward integration.

CMOs are the new CXOs: The Chief Experience Officer



The shift toward using Big Data and analytics in business is also causing a shift in the CMO’s role. Turning this data into relevant customer experiences, at scale, is a very different objective for marketers than in the past, when the job was focused mostly on creative and brand strategies. These new data-driven experiences also require a new kind of rigor and a deep technology backbone to drive them. To fulfill this transition, a re-name and re-focus of the CMO’s role is needed -- from one based on marketing and creativity to one firmly grounded in providing a superior end-to-end customer experience.

CMOs and CIOs: strategic partners

The study goes on to show that CMOs tend to view IT as an “execution and delivery” provider, rather than a strategic partner. Overall, CMOs also do not believe they are getting fast enough turnaround on projects and adequate quality from the IT departments:

  • Forty-five percent of marketing executives want to enable marketing employees to operate data and content without IT intervention; and
  • Because many CMOs do not believe that they are getting the service they want from their IT departments, they bypass the IT department and work with outside vendors.

Instead of seeing the CIO as a technology platform provider, CMOs need to once again make a shift, and embrace their role as the CXO as well as that of the CIO as a strategic partner -- one that can help ensure effective marketing management, while incorporating technological components that resonate with today’s digital consumer.

CIOs and CMOs: execute and integrate

On the other hand, IT executives believe that marketers make promises they can’t keep and do not provide them with adequate information of the business requirements. CIOs on the whole believe that the marketing teams often do not understand -- or appreciate -- data integration or IT standards, causing a divide between what they can offer and what is expected.

  • Nearly half (49 percent) of CIOs say that marketing pulls in technologies without consideration for IT standards.
  • Forty-six percent of CIOs say the marketing team lacks understanding of data integration.

In order to help integrate and implement their technology across the corporation, CIOs need to have confidence in the CMO’s ability to execute and communicate marketing priorities. Working together to enable the marketing department to become more tech-savvy -- and the IT department to become more marketing-savvy -- is imperative to finding a collaborative culture that promotes true incorporation of technology.


Overall, it seems that the responsibility of alignment to meet strategic goals in the digital age begins with and lies in the hands of the CIO and CMO -- it can be as simple as reaching out, offering understanding and trusting one another to get the job done.




2 comments about "The CMO-CIO Disconnect: Stronger Collaboration Drives Digital Success".
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  1. Maryanne Conlin from RedRopes Digital/4GreenPs, September 11, 2013 at 9:17 a.m.

    Great post! While marketing practitioners today tend to be digitally savvy and analytically solid, not all or even many are that familiar with the actual technical parts of coding and collecting data. Some of the same challenges have existed for years between manufacturing and marketing - i.e. an understanding of the process. Encouraging development of technical skills, even at a hobbyist level can increase cross departmental understanding.

  2. Ingrid Froelich from SDL, September 12, 2013 at 3:48 a.m.

    I absolutely agree. I think that especially in this era of Big Data, the collaboration between those with analytics expertise and marketing will better help define target groups and ensure that the analysis is valid.

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