How CIOs and CMOs will ‘co-create’ in 2021

The acceleration of digital technology adoption during COVID-19 has put a stronger impetus on closer alignment and synergy between marketing and IT.

That’s according to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, who spoke to the importance of this relationship at the first all-digital Adobe Summit. “The most successful digital businesses have several things in common, one of which is a strong partnership between the CIO and CMO,” Narayen said. “In fact,” he added, “it’s the decade of the CMO and the CIO. …Marketing has become more data-driven, CIOs have become more customer-centric, and leaders are working more closely than ever before.”

Here are some of the ways industry experts believe CMOs and CIOs will “co-create” in 2021. Reimagining customer experience and implementing data-driven operating models within their organizations are just some of the ways in which the two groups will partner next year. Read on for expert predictions below.

Allison Dew, CMO, Dell Technologies

The industry has been talking for years about the importance of the CMO / CIO partnership. Up until now, I would say that has been more talk than action. We’ve seen the incredibly complexity of the marcom stack develop in the industry. We’ve seen personalization increase but also privacy risks rise in parallel. And we’ve witnessed a silly debate about creativity vs. data driven decision making.

That might make me sound like a bit of a curmudgeon but to me that is where it actually gets interesting. Because I think we are now starting to move as a function beyond the talk. We now think about privacy by design. We understand the importance of an end-to-end data architecture. And where our modelling capabilities meet our creative instincts, we are getting into the next level of sophistication combining math and creativity.

I couldn’t do any of that without my partnership with our CIO. She has become one of my most important stakeholders and I genuinely believe that together our teams can usher in the promise of the much-hyped digital transformation. Things that even a year ago we thought would take five to ten years we are now accomplishing in record times. As an optimist, that’s one of the silver linings of this crazy year.

Dave Castellani, CIO, New York Life

This is a moment in time where [organizations] have to totally rethink their process and strategy. Sales and marketing will be significantly challenged and tested in the post-COVID world. Adaptation — and, in some cases, wholesale changes — to the way companies operate may be required. That’s where a good technology-business partnership comes through with ideas and solutions.

Cynthia Stoddard, SVP and CIO, Adobe

IT and marketing will certainly ‘co-create’ experiences in 2021. It will be very hard for companies to succeed if their marketing and technology teams are still operating in silos. It’s essential for these two functions to partner together in order to ensure the right technology is in place to scale personalized customer communication across offline and digital channels. As customer experience management (CXM) technology becomes more complex and contains more data, IT will be on the hook for optimizing the operational and security aspects of it, while marketing brings experience in customer journey management.

Shade Vaughn, CMO, Capgemini North America

The maturity and value of martech tools is increasing exponentially and impacts everything from customer experience to products and services, to operations and even employee engagement. To realize the full benefit of these tools in 2021, great companies will leverage executive leaders who are adept at breaking boundaries and collaborating on the overall growth strategy, shared investments and transformation roadmap. The CMO and CIO need to lead the way by working together to drive change through behavior-based marketing and selling tools, developing talent strategies and identifying partners who can provide the skills and capabilities in these new emerging areas that are so critical to growth.

Peeyush Dubey, CMO, LTI

The pandemic is a wake-up call. Companies need to re-examine every stage of their acquire-grow-retain customer lifecycle and think more digitally than ever before. The relationship between the CIO and the CMO has become more important than ever. …The companies that will emerge stronger are the ones where the CIO and CMO take joint ownership of customer experience.