Conscious Coupling: Why CMOs And CIOs Are This Year’s New ‘It’ Couple
For businesses across industries, collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is vital to delivering a future-focused customer experience. Right now, however, the siloed nature of these roles is impeding progress.
Traditionally, we think of CMOs handling customers and CIOs tackling tech. But in the age of the data-driven customer, those lines are not so sharply delineated.
For businesses across industries, collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is vital to delivering a future-focused customer experience. Right now, however, the siloed nature of these roles is impeding progress. Reaching better CMO-CIO alignment calls for organizations to take strategic steps toward a conscious coupling.
The Need: CMO-CIO Collaboration
In 2012, Gartner made a bold projection: Within five years, CMOs would outstrip CIOs in terms of IT spending. This counterintuitive claim sparked a broad debate, which soon devolved into attention-generating headlines that pitted the two roles against each other. But the “CMO vs. CIO” conversation was misguided. It highlighted conflict when the real discussion needed to center around unification.
CMOs are always working to personalize the customer experience. While recipes for personalization differ across businesses, they have one ingredient in common: buyer data. These days, knowing the customer means harnessing data, and the most successful marketing efforts are driven by qualified, actionable information. At Starbucks, for instance, the coffee giant retains its massive consumer base through an omnichannel loyalty program that tracks customer business and provides incentives for purchases through frequent, tailored rewards. It’s designed to make customers feel personally attended to even when they’re not in the store.
The rise of data-fueled, personalized marketing is facilitating an evolution of the CMO role. These days, CMOs and their teams are developing their own data strategies—which was typically IT’s domain. And thanks to the boom of commercial data and analytics solutions catered to non-technical users, marketers can implement their own tools with IT support. Faced with intersecting workloads, CMOs and CIOs need to unify and collaborate–but that’s going to require some work.
The Challenge: Surmounting Silos
Marketing and IT aren’t where they need to be in terms of alignment. According to a survey of 131 marketing and IT executives carried out by Leapfrog Marketing Institute–the research arm of Leapfrog Online–both sides highlighted the gap between CMOs and CIOs. As the CMO Digital Benchmark Study uncovered, 63% of respondents pointed to the lack of alignment between the two departments in terms of metrics and goals.
This disconnect is largely explained by the traditionally siloed nature of the roles: CMOs focus on marketing and sales, while CIOs handle the digital space.
In the age of evolving digital marketing, it’s time to break down those silos. CMOs and CIOs need to get on the same page in order to deliver customer experience-shaping resources like enterprise mobile apps and omnichannel fulfillment. Without effective CMO-CIO collaboration, an organization’s time-to-market can plummet and customers can lose out. The question is, how can businesses bridge the divide between marketing and information?
The Solution: Steps Toward A Conscious CMO-CIO Coupling
A strategic enterprise approach to CMO-CIO alignment breaks down to three broad steps:
1. Reach a shared vision: CIOs and CMOs need to sit down and lay out an overall operating model that works for both departments. By mapping out points of convergence between marketing and IT, CIOs and CMOs can work to eliminate the historical sense of disconnect between their functions.
2. Work together on an innovation process: A blueprint for effective collaboration can’t be something that comes from the CIO and is imposed on the CMO or vice versa. Instead, it needs to come from a frank conversation about the gaps that exist between IT and marketing and the steps that must be taken to bridge those gaps. Here are some key questions that should be asked when developing these processes:
- In what ways do our core internal marketing processes need to evolve to accommodate the modern buyer journey?
- Are we optimizing every technology platform available that can connect us to our customers and drive engagement (i.e. social channels, mobile apps, etc.)?
- What specific technology capabilities does the marketing team need, and how can IT help equip them with those skills?
- Should we adopt new technologies or engage new vendors to boost our marketing analytics capabilities? If so, what are our shared criteria for evaluating these solutions? **
3. Always keep the customer in mind: Make sure that whatever blueprint you lay out, it’s designed to augment your customer roadmap. After all, it’s the customer experience that’s bringing marketing and IT together in the first place.
Think of a business mobile app you use regularly. Chances are you enjoy a seamless user experience and any functional issues are fixed via app updates. Behind these most-used apps, you’ll find a unified process that merges data analytics, infrastructure, and marketing–one that reflects a close partnership between marketing and IT.
It’s time to break down the CMO-CIO silos and build this partnership. Your customers’ experience and loyalty depend on it.