How Both Marketing And IT Drive Digital Transformation

The role of the CIO is changing, and both IT and marketing have a lot to gain by coming together as partners. Read more on why marketing and IT must work in lock step to drive digital transformation.

How Both Marketing And IT Drive Digital Transformation

by Adobe

Posted on 08-23-2018

How Both Marketing And IT Drive Digital Transformation

Why marketing and IT must work in lock step to drive digital transformation.

Technology is evolving faster than ever. And with it, customer expectations. For even the savviest business leaders and marketers, it can be easy to feel like you’re always chasing the latest app, platform, or tool just to keep up with your competitors. The smartest marketers take a step back and consider their larger business goals before diving headfirst into a new technology investment. Will this tool actually move the needle for your business? Or are you experiencing a case of technology fear of missing out (FOMO) and merely trying to not be left behind by your competitors?

In recent years, with the emergence of SaaS and cloud-based solutions, marketing has been less reliant on IT to evaluate and implement new technology. Add to this the fact that, historically, the chief marketing officer and chief information officer haven’t always worked well together. CIOs may be hesitant to make decisions as quickly as the CMO, while CMOs often prefer to focus on innovation first and consider established processes, standardization, or security concerns later.

But mounting research shows there is more reason than ever to find common ground. In fact, today’s focus on digital transformation — as a conduit to delivering better customer experiences — makes it crucial for the two departments to be in lockstep with each other. By unifying around shared business goals and speaking the common language of experience, IT and marketing have more opportunity than ever to make smarter technology investments. And IT leaders who take the time to understand the company’s goals and its customers will continue to have a bigger seat at the strategy table.

Overall marketing budget allocated to marketing technology in 2017 was 27%.

** Source: Gartner

Amid concerns about marketing’s ability to effectively acquire and maintain technology, there was a 15% reduction in marketing technology budget allocation from 2016.

** Source: Gartner

From operators to orchestrators: The changing role of the CIO.

Historically, IT has owned the role of technology steward. They’ve maintained systems, mitigated risks, and ensured compliance.

That role is quickly changing. Today’s CIOs have evolved beyond their traditional role as a gatekeeper. They’ve had to, in order to navigate the testy waters of an evolving enterprise and a quickly changing digital economy. But it’s not enough to just stay afloat. IT must digitally transform, too — from maintaining backend systems to enabling technologies where the user experience is paramount. It’s time for IT departments to move from a maintenance role to an innovative partner — and CIOs are leading the charge.

of CIOs expect their jobs to change or be remixed due to digitalization.

** Source: Gartner

of CIOs already have responsibility for areas of the business outside traditional IT — the most common being innovation and transformation.

** Source: Gartner

Digital transformation has led to IT leaders thinking more like business leaders who are trusted to move the business forward. They’re tasked with developing innovative business processes, implementing new technology, ensuring seamless integrations, and helping to demonstrate a return on technology investments. In fact, CIOs today are likely to focus more on influencing the purchase of a range of technologies, and on nurturing talent and innovation across the business.

That’s good news for CMOs. But it also comes with some added responsibilities in the partnership and collaboration department. It’s imperative for CIOs and CMOs to work together at the top to ensure the long-term success and viability of any new technology investment — not just in the spirit of collaboration, but for the sake of the business. CMOs that loop their technology departments into buying decisions early can ensure that every system works seamlessly together — and that every technology investment is truly good for the business, rather than the next flashy trend.

Chasing technology and fighting FOMO.

The tech struggle is real. More than any department in the organization, marketing has the most opportunity to optimize the customer experience — and an ever-increasing number of technology options to help attract, engage, and convert new customers. They also hold the keys to a large percentage of technology spending.

But it can be challenging for marketers to know whether they’re making a sound investment. In fact, according to Marketing Week, 54 percent of CMOs say they’re unsure whether the technology they’ve invested in creates value.

Anticipated spending on digital transformation efforts is $1.7 billion, including technology and services, in 2019 — a 42% growth rate YOY.

** Source: IDC

So how does a CMO stay on top of the latest trends, make sound technology purchase decisions, and prove the ROI of their efforts? That’s where the CIO can help. Together, the CIO and CMO can create a shared vision for their tech stack and the objectives they want to achieve with it. They can then assess their current solutions to determine what’s helpful in achieving unified business goals — and what’s just a nice-to-have. Once those gaps are identified, marketing and IT can work together to seamlessly integrate new systems into existing processes and infrastructure. In doing so, IT will maintain its governance while being able to give marketing the integrations, insights, and results they need to tie their investments to bottom-line benefits.

Five questions to ask before you invest.

  1. Is this solution scalable?
  2. Will it integrate with our current systems?
  3. Does it improve the customer experience?
  4. Or free up time to focus on the customer experience?
  5. Will it deliver a positive ROI?

2. Foster innovation while ensuring security.

In the digital age, customer experience is everything. Customers expect personalized experiences wherever they happen to engage with brands. For marketers, that means investing in solutions and technologies to provide seamless, innovative experiences on every device — and to help them stay one step ahead of the competition. But failing to work with the IT department well in advance of implementation can actually hinder customer experiences down the road. From safeguarding data security to partnering with a vendor that may not stay in business, identifying risks is key. CMOs and CIOs can work in tandem to define a governance framework that effectively manages and mitigates risk while embracing and encouraging innovation.

3. Speak the common language of experience.

Marketing people often complain that it’s difficult to communicate with their IT counterparts — whether management or technical staff — and IT people often complain that marketing people aren’t very good at articulating exactly what they need. Each group may find the other’s language a bit foreign and intimidating. The language they both should be speaking is the language of experience.

The responsibility for bridging this communication gap lies with both marketing and IT. Translate “marketing talk” and “geek speak” to simple, relatable terms. Even better, take the time to learn some of the other’s lingo to further facilitate communication. Focus every conversation around shared business goals and priorities that serve the customer experience, rather than the knowledge gaps that exist on either side. Doing so will minimize any confusion, reduce frustration, and keep everyone focused on the end goal investing in and implementing technology that will yield real, measurable results. After all, there’s no language more commonly understood than bottom-line revenue.

4. Focus on results.

It’s said that the only constant is change. That’s especially true when it comes to marketing strategy and innovation in the digital age. There’s a never-ending drumbeat of new technologies, apps, and systems to help attract, connect, and engage with customers.

Finding common ground on the path to better customer experiences.

The role of the CIO is changing, and both IT and marketing have a lot to gain by coming together as partners. Unifying around common goals and shared language serves both parties. Marketing is able to seamlessly integrate the technology they need. And IT becomes digital transformation stewards and evangelists, not just gatekeepers. By artfully blending business objectives and IT considerations, CIOs and CMOs can work together to create a holistic approach to digital transformation — and to create truly exceptional customer experiences.


Chris Pemberton, “2016–2017 Gartner CMO Spend Survey Reveals the CMO’s Growing Mandate,” Gartner, January 10, 2017.

Ewan McIntyre and Anna Maria Virzi, “CMO Spend Survey 2017–2018: Budgets Recede Amid Demand for Results,” Gartner, 2017.


Glen Hartman, “How CMOs and CIOs can work together to win the digital customer,” Accenture.


Mastering the New Business Executive Job of the CIO: Insights from the 2018 CIO Agenda Report,” Gartner, 2018.


Seb Joseph, “Majority of marketers aren’t sure technologies are producing ROI,” Marketing Week, October 22, 2014.

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