Skip to main content

The New Odd Couple: Five Steps to Ensure Internal Zen with CMO and CIO

By July 16, 2013Article

In January 2012 Gartner Research made a shockingly bold prediction: that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. The thesis was simple: marketing teams are purchasing more enterprise-grade data-related marketing technologies from their own capital and expense budgets — both outside the control of the IT organization and in conjunction with them. 
This was rather unexpected, as in a typical enterprise organization, the CIO and CMO live at opposite ends of the spectrum. The CIO, an internally focused role, has been stereotyped as the techie brainiac solely responsible for the majority of IT decisions; while the CMO, an externally focused role, is typically an extroverted individual who determines how the organization is perceived from the outside looking in. However, with the rise of BYOD, mobile workforces and marketing decisions being driven largely by data and analytics, these two roles are becoming the yin and the yang of enterprise success. 
How do you ensure these two polar opposites achieve workplace Zen? Check out these simple tips:
1. Activate the bat phone
Okay, so maybe not the bat phone, but these two offices need to keep a constant line of communication going to ensure their needs match current capabilities. Business users are driving adoption more than ever before; and in order for IT to stay a step ahead and be able to provide the best support, they need to have their finger on the pulse of the entire organization. 
2. Make data an enterprise asset, not a departmental asset
With the massive amount of data collected these days, everyone can glean some benefits. While the CMO is interested in customer behavior, IT is now interested in customer behavior as well. What websites do they visit? What software do they download? What are their favorite devices to use at home and at the office? This is just a sample of information that can be useful to both parties. Having a unified data management system where both the CMO and CIO can extract pertinent information will keep everyone happy. 
3. Both parties need to be involved in technology purchases – both front end and back end
At the end of the day when budgets unfortunately need to be cut, it’s the CMOs and CIOs who are at the top of the list. Standing in a united front to the other C-level executives could provide more bargaining power at the budget meeting. These two offices need to look through a similar scope and have each other’s backs, for one is truly a loss for the other. 
4. Lead by example: involve the departments
Though the CIO and CMO having a great working relationship is a strong start, it’s hardly enough to provide the groundswell needed to initiate real change. These two departments need to work closely to understand each other’s needs. Whether it’s assigning a specific IT person to a particular group of marketing people or implementing a buddy system, creating a seamless, team environment between these two very different groups will help both IT and marketing navigate the ever-changing IT space.
5. Make it work
All of the above ideas are good and great, but if you don’t have mutual buy-in from both parties, then there’s nothing more to discuss. The CIO and CMO must first agree that they have many shared interests throughout the organization, and like any relationship, if it’s going to be a healthy, two-way street, it needs to be fostered.
As the 15+-year-old Gartner veteran and VP, Jennifer Beck, said in late April 2013, “The conversation about CIOs and CMOs as partners is focused primarily on why these two executives can’t get along …” and “… if you fundamentally believe IT and marketing need to work effectively together …  a better starting point to improve their working relationship is searching out the common ground.” 
So it isn’t about one office being superior to the other; it’s a truly complementary and mutually beneficial relationship. 
Kim DeCarlis is VP of worldwide marketing at BMC Software. Previously, she served as the VP of corporate marketing at Citrix, following tenure as SVP of product marketing at Information Resources, Inc. Her 25 years of leadership experience includes Saba, Documentum, IBM and Xerox. DeCarlis was recognized by Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of the “2010 Silicon Valley Women of Influence.” She serves on the board of directors for Watermark. Follow Kim on Twitter at: @Kim_DeCarlis.