The Ultimate Power Couple: CMO and CIO
It’s Time to get Marketing and IT on the Same Page
With Valentine’s Day approaching, it conjures up images of hearts and romance, and those iconic couples that have prevailed throughout the ages: Romeo & Juliet, Cleopatra & Mark Antony, Lancelot & Guinevere, Brad & Angelina, Marketing & IT.
Marketing & IT?
If you think it sounds awkward, you’re probably not alone. Conventional corporate wisdom suggests that the relationship between Marketing & IT is hardly one you’d consider textbook. After all, we’re worlds apart—fundamentally and functionally—and we speak entirely different languages.
McKinsey & Company explains the differences between these two well:
“CMOs have traditionally acted as stewards of the brand and have focused on large creative campaigns that generate excitement for the company’s products or services. The CIO, on the other hand, has primarily focused on a combination of business-process improvement, managing core transaction systems, ensuring cybersecurity, supporting end users and reducing costs.”
Common Relationship Pains Between Marketers & IT
As marketers, we tend to be more agile, and we want to move at a pace that falls outside of the typical IT comfort zone. But, in today’s fast-paced, data-driven marketplace, we need to jump in with emerging technologies. Adding newer solutions in marketing automation and marketing resource management has become as important as maintaining or scaling legacy enterprise systems like CRM. In fact, technology research by Gartner, Inc. predicts that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. IDC reports that by 2016, line of business executives will control 40 percent of IT spending.
With the deluge of marketing technologies out there, CMOs are forced to work outside of their comfort zone, tasked with navigating a huge market. They need to be able to align tech priorities to their strategies, justify their value and deliver the greatest return on investment. Many are still trying to understand all the options, let alone taking the leap to invest in them.
Emerging Technologies and Barriers to Overcome
Granted, emerging enterprise technologies have radically changed our approach to business. And, in essence, this has forced the need for a harmonious courtship between Marketing & IT. But, the reality is there are still some fundamental barriers to overcome:
- Only 28 percent of CIOs have an “excellent” relationship with CMOs in large enterprise, according to a recent study by CIO Research.
- Marketers & IT generally lack a shared vocabulary and common understanding of expectations.
- Marketing Magazine writes, “CMOs are traditionally focused on customers, building brands and using big ideas and creativity to drive revenue. On the other hand, the specific skills required for procuring systems, ensuring stability and scalability, and reducing costs, are more aligned to a CTO.”
Creating a Productive (and Amiable) Relationship with IT – Steps for Bridging the Gaps
If your relationship with your IT department has you less than smitten, (or even if you get along swimmingly), I’ve outlined below some considerations that can help you improve them. Here are some steps you can take so that you can leverage your collective knowledge and skill sets and move forward to a successful future together.
- Start at the project/pilot level – Build best practices from your successes before taking on massive enterprise or big data initiatives. There’s less risk in taking on smaller projects until you work out the kinks.
- Align to common goals – Consider IT a strategic partner, not just a platform provider. Before forging ahead with decisions, work together to identify considerations or precautions in adopting and procuring new technologies.
- View data as an enterprise asset – Agree on key business levers for marketing and IT integration, such as access to customer data vs. privacy and security. Alignment should be prominent in the agendas and investment plans for each function.
- Focus on the customer – Marketing and IT need to be jointly responsible for owning the design and enhancement of the customer experience. Work together to understand customer needs, expectations and behaviors at the point of interaction across all channels.
- Build cross-disciplinary teams – Empower both functions to be more marketing and tech-savvy; create an environment where you can leverage appropriate skill sets. Learn to speak a common language in order to translate information across functions. Be proactive and transparent in your cross-functional activities.
As in any successful relationship, there’s no easy, quick fix. It takes hard work, nurturing and perseverance. But, taking steps to strengthen the bond between Marketing & IT can help you better navigate emerging technologies and work harmoniously together toward building a cohesive, customer-centric enterprise approach.
If you’re looking for solutions that easily bridge the gap between marketing and IT, we can help. Check out our video interview with Mike Walsh, Strata’s AVP of IT, who explains how we do just that.
About Katrina Denk
Possessing over 10 years of experience leading strategic and tactical marketing efforts of some of the area’s most respected businesses, Marketing Director Katrina Denk brings a wide breadth of knowledge to every initiative she oversees. Whether it’s a product launch or a multi-touch email campaign, she understands all the ins and outs of the marketing mix. In her free time, Katrina is an enthusiastic world traveler and animal lover.