Commentary

CMOs Partnering With CIOs Yield Mixed Results

While more and more CMOs we talk to are actively engaged in partnering with CIOs on projects ranging from enterprise digitization and martech adoption to customer experience and revenue-generation programs, many are frustrated with the results. 

Marketers certainly see the value in collaborating closely with IT leaders and their staff to meet department goals and objectives that can be positively impacted with enterprise data and predictive analytics techniques. In the process, they also understand that an IT team that understands marketing’s obstacles and challenges affords them an opportunity to become more active business partners. 

Based on recent client experiences, however, each side has a different perspective on why projects stall or fail, and what it takes to form a mutually beneficial relationship.

Reasons CMOs cite for failed partnerships and projects

Input we have received from CMOs places the blame for failed partnerships and projects on a shortage of technical skills, insufficient funding, and the slower pace at which IT moves. The latter, in particular, can hinder marketers who now, more than ever, must be nimble and acutely focused on improving customer experience and the bottom line.  

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In some cases, marketers point the finger of failure at themselves, acknowledging that they are not effectively integrating their needs with enterprise IT. This impedes the marketing department’s ability to fully leverage the IT infrastructure and mine insightful data generated both internally and through third-party sources.

CIOs have a different point of view

From the CIO’s perspective, projects involving marketing and IT fail because goals and objectives are not clearly defined and agreed upon by both parties. This gap often occurs because IT doesn’t understand marketing’s goals and marketing lacks the technical knowledge to be specific enough on requirements, budget and timeline. No one from either department should assume that each group is working toward the same goal unless it has been spelled out and succinctly articulated. 

Additionally, through the lens of a CIO, problems frequently occur due to poor execution, either because of unrealistic schedules, reactive planning, or shifting requirements that broaden the scope of the project. CIOs also put the blame for project failure on the technical impact of a change, which can be complex and beyond the scope of reason within a target timeframe. 

To make comprehensive and cohesive project planning and execution even more problematic, marketers too often continue to adopt new technologies and solutions independent of IT; otherwise known as shadow IT. Such a maverick marketing practice can solve marketing’s timing frustrations in the short-term but creates integration disruptions when marketing needs to access enterprise-wide data and incorporate new techniques like AI and machine learning to reach strategic goals and objectives.

How to successfully partner with IT

To successfully partner with IT, it is important for marketers to recognize the challenges they face. IT is responsible, among other activities, for developing and overseeing a holistic, enterprise-wide blueprint for digital transformation. One that understands and addresses key business problems and enterprise-wide goals, and also informs strategic planning and projects. 

Collaborating closely with marketing departments is a paradigm shift and a challenge for IT because of the learning curve in understanding the external customers’ needs and how data and technology can improve marketing’s effectiveness. 

By engaging the CIO and IT staff, you are helping them to gain a better understanding of marketing challenges and technology obstacles so they can meet their new organizational directive. In return, with strong IT support, you will find yourself in a much better position to leverage their expertise and identify the most useful and cost-effective technologies – as well as those that can be set aside –  for the mutual success of both departments.

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