The New Alliance CIO’s and CMO’s

The New Alliance CIO’s and CMO’s

15-07-27-cio-2Until very recently the most common partnership within the C – Suite was effectively the CIO or IT Director as was. Increasingly though now there is a powershift with CMO’s gaining an increasing share of the corporate budgeted spend.Marketing is now a fundamental driver of IT purchasing, and that trend shows no signs of stopping –or even slowing down –any time soon.  In fact, Gartner analyst Laura McLellan recently predicted that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than their counterpart CIOs.

At first, that prediction may sound a bit over the top. (In just five years from now, CMOs are going to be spending more on IT than CIOs do?)

But, consider this:

1) As we all know, marketing is becoming increasingly technology-based

2) Harnessing and mastering Big Data is now key to achieving competitive advantage,

3) Many marketing budgets already are larger –and faster growing –than IT budgets.

McLellan’s recent provided the data to back up that last point. According to Gartner’s research:

  • 2013 B2B and B2C marketing budgets as a percentage of revenue were almost three times as high (10 percent) as IT budgets (3.6 percent).
  • 2016 IT budgets are expected to grow 4.7 percent, while all marketing budgets, in general, are predicted to grow 9 percent, and high tech marketing budgets, more specifically, are expected to increase 11 percent.
  • On average, nearly one-third (30 percent) of named marketing-related technology and services is bought by marketing already. What’s more, marketing now influences almost half of all purchases.

Clearly, it’s time for CMOs and CIOs to start forging true, strategic partnerships, so both marketing and IT can begin sharing ownership of both goals and outcomes. After all, the business landscape has shifted, and it’s no longer marketing that drives business growth – it’s digital marketing that drives business growth. CMOs and CIOs alike must recognize that technology and marketing are now inextricably tied, and that future success depends on the creation of a totally new kind of cross-functional organization.

How will a strong partnership between marketing and IT create more value for your business?  I see the benefits falling into four broad categories:


When marketing and IT depend on silos of teams, data, processes and software, they run in a very ad hoc fashion, and that makes it extremely difficult to scale, replicate and optimize. What’s more, silos inhibit alignment around relevant messages to the appropriate audience.  Cross-functional collaboration can solve these problems by enabling a shared view of the customer with IT, sales and other stakeholders and creating efficiencies, improved workflows and even cost reductions. In other words, integration eliminates barriers and facilitates better engagement internally. Likewise, it eliminates barriers and facilitates better engagement between your brand and the consumer, as well.

Risk management.

Global corporations now face enormous risks as they try to manage brand campaigns across a variety of different platforms (both off- and online). From the mundane (password policies for social media accounts) to the more sophisticated (customer privacy concerns, security issues), marketing and IT must join forces to mitigate an ever more complicated array of threats.


Just as risks have multiplied, so have compliance concerns. Companies across all sectors face new industry regulations, as well as country/regional laws governing consumer privacy, etc. The compliance landscape internally is complicated, too, as organizations work to reach solid footing with regard to social media procedures, licensing agreements, etc. 

Customer experience.

Today’s successful marketers are taking a customer-centric approach and delivering a brand experience that’s compelling, personalized and consistent across all touchpoints. In order to accomplish that task, marketing needs systems in place for data collection, automated analysis and targeted distribution –each of which increasingly depends on IT expertise, particularly as campaigns become more and more centered on customer insight and real-time analytics.

So how does the CIO position themselves in this new world. Speaking as a technologist and a sales director  I would say three strategies come into play.

1. Develop yourself as a brand – You can bet your digital spend that your marketing colleague is doing just that. Position yourself as an integrated expert on digital channel engagement not just the team that provides the nuts and bolts.

2. Wherever possible integrate execution of digital strategies into your team or supply chain – after all we are pretty good aren’t we at evolving with each new wave of technology.

3. Apply our good old fashioned discipline of delivering in a world where actually we have to get it right. Push back on shaky marketing strategies that don’t stand up to the soirt of stress test we put infrastructure projects through.

Inevitably, marketing is poised to exert even more influence over tech spending, but doing so without the solid foundation of a strong cross-functional collaboration with IT just doesn’t make sense.  Today’s business environment is volatile, and we’ve lost what little margin there was for error. Marketing and IT have no choice to get on the same page and drive business value working together as strategic partners.

Some of the material in this blog first appeared in a Forbes article