CMOs and CIOs, It’s Time to Mend Those Fences

If ever there were two sides in greater need of a relationship counselor it’s the chief marketing officer (CMO) and chief information officer (CIO). Like the Hatfields and Macoys, the two have traditionally found themselves on opposite sides of the fence. However, unlike this feud, the CMO and CIO have no choice but to find a resolution. In fact, it’s in their best interests to do just that.

Before the explosion of social media and mobile devices, the CIO’s job was to maintain a focus on the backend of the business and make sure it had an infrastructure that was lasting and secure. On the other side, the CMO was looking outward to the customers where they were charged with being highly agile and able to react quickly to changing market and customer expectations.

With that background it’s easy to see why this barrier came to be. Now why does it need to be torn down?

Two words: Generation C.

Today’s consumers are smarter and more empowered than ever, connecting with brands on their own terms and through whatever channel they like, be it a smartphone or the store itself. If that wasn’t enough, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have emerged as the main resources for brand information, with friends, family, and colleagues becoming significantly more influential than the words of the brand.

On this new stage CMOs are being bombarded with numerous technology choices that are essential to executing successful, highly personalized campaigns. If that wasn’t enough, these technologies are pervasive through all areas of marketing including new channels such as digital, websites, social media, and mobile, where our new 2012 Holiday Readiness Report states that we can expect to see sales from mobile devices exceed 20 percent over the Christmas holiday.

Enter the CIO.

Today, CIOs are extending their hand by widening their responsibilities beyond IT into enterprise leadership roles. These CIOs are embracing multiple approaches such as:

  1. Creating spaces where CMOs can quickly deploy and test new digital technologies, allowing marketing teams to access technologies capable of immediately tackling issues or to simply familiarize themselves with some of the new options they may employ down the road.
  2. Looking for ways to assist CMOs more effectively with a long-term partnership that helps address marketing as their needs continue to evolve.

When it comes to this long-term alliance, the primary driver may be big data. IBM (where I work) estimates that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created daily from a variety of sources including posts to social media sites, digital pictures, and videos. Making sense of this data may be the team’s number one priority since chances are a significant portion of it is being created by your customers.

This is the point that has many scratching their heads. However, there is an answer and it is marketing analytics. You may have seen IBM’s Watson when it appeared on “Jeopardy.” What made it special was Watson’s ability to use analytics to sift through millions of documents in seconds to answer a single question. Now imagine you are a CMO and have the ability to use analytics to cull through millions of tweets, texts, and online comments to figure out the best way to reach each customer. It is capabilities like this that we will be talking about at our Smarter Commerce Global Summit, which begins tomorrow.

With big data, companies can now shape everything from how brands interact with each customer to the products and services they offer, over which channel, and at what time. Getting to know the customer has always been a goal, but targeting a broad demographic such as “men-18-34” is now a recipe for failure. Today, marketers can actually predict the moment to engage with a customer with the right information or right suggestion in a personalized, authentic way so that marketing feels less intrusive and more like a welcomed service.

CIOs are experienced analysts who bleed technology, while CMOs are growth and market-driven brand experts with a customer focus. Now is the time for the two sides to stop looking at their differences and begin considering the benefits that their combined strength can bring to an organization. This alliance isn’t just logical, it’s essential. In fact, according to a new paper from our Center for Applied Insights, businesses that have strong marketing and IT relationships perform better than those that do not. Now which side of that fence would you like to be on?

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