Should CMOs and CIOs Partner On Strategic Information Technology?

CMO Technology

For as long as the roles of CMO and CIO have existed, their work has rarely overlapped. CMOs focused on the company’s marketing efforts while CIOs stuck to the technology side of the business. But in today’s digital world, the hard lines that once separated marketing and tech have dissolved. Now, any business that wants to remain competitive must engage in digital transformation—which requires strategic use of information technology incorporating both marketing and IT. That transformation can only be effective if CMOs and CIOs work together.

The Importance of Digital Transformation

According to the Altimeter Group, digital transformation is “The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.” The goal of digital transformation should be to better provide value for the client or customer and to improve competitiveness. To achieve these ends, a strategic approach to information technology must be utilized. And for that to happen, CMOs and CIOs must communicate and strive together in seeking the same goal.

The vast majority of businesses were not founded with digital technologies in mind, and even less were created from day one to take advantage of the digital platforms that have emerged in the past decade, much less those that continue to spring up on a seemingly daily basis.

Chances are, as a CMO you have probably already been thinking long and hard about how your marketing efforts can incorporate the vast array of digital technologies available. Just some of the areas where digital transformation could deliver notable improvements include:

  • Mobile computing
  • Social media
  • Big data
  • Cloud features
  • Data privacy compliance
  • BYOD
  • Data security
  • And more…

Of course, to achieve the kind of transformation that you want and need, certain obstacles must be overcome. You have to determine where you are, where you want to go and how you are going to get there—all of which is best facilitated through the partnership of the CMO and CIO.

Partnership Between Marketing and IT Facilitates Competency

The terrain of digital platforms is difficult to navigate for even the most experienced professionals. To conquer this terrain and make it work for your business, it only makes sense to utilize all the resources at your disposal. Between building, running and managing the digital tools necessary to reach and retain customers, and ensuring that marketing efforts are as well integrated with new technologies as possible, there is simply too much required for one department—marketing or IT—to do alone.

Both CMOs and CIOs face unique challenges from the digital technology field. Some of these include:

Challenges for CMOs

For CMOs, the number of existing and upcoming digital technologies can be overwhelming. There are so many areas that must be considered to achieve competitiveness, including:

  • Buying appropriate technology solutions
  • Managing the technology stack
  • Creating infrastructure for technologies
  • Integrating new technologies with existing enterprise solutions

You could be the most effective CMO in the world when it comes to marketing, yet feel completely in the dark when it comes to how to manage the nuts and bolts of new technologies. That is why different departments exist in organizations—because true competency and skill take years to develop, and no one is capable of being an expert in everything.

Challenges for CIOs

The technology your business needs to operate and serve your customer base is the focus of the CIO. However, the marketing end of the equation is rarely an area where the CIO will have much expertise. Some of the things that the CIO may struggle with include:

  • Continued awareness of company efforts to reach and retain customers
  • Understanding the value proposition presented by the company to the client or customer
  • Needed adaptations in marketing messages as new information comes in
  • Which technologies are most effective for marketing based on company needs

CIOs have their own challenges to contend with as they strive to keep the ship running and determine what the best technology solutions are among an increasingly vast array of options. If they are not brought into the marketing conversation, there is a real risk that the left hand can become detached from the right—possibly even to the point where the CMO and CIO are working at cross purposes.

The benefits of CMOs and CIOs partnering quickly becomes apparent as your company embraces technology. Marketing has never had so much reach as it has today with digital platforms and real-time data. But utilizing that technology requires expertise that is found in the CIO and the IT team.

CMO and CIO—In it Together for the Long Haul

CMOs and CIOs share the same ultimate goal—the success of the organization for which they work. Success in today’s digital environment means utilizing appropriate technologies to keep the business strong, competitive and attractive to the customer. To obtain success requires a partnership between the CMO and CIO to identify areas for improvement, move forward with effective action that will achieve improvements, and to continue to adapt to the rapid changes that are inherent in today’s business world.