An ongoing debate in recent years has centered around the relative power of CMOs and CIOs within organizations. Some people are adamant that marketing is becoming the power-broker and increasingly responsible for the bulk of the IT budget. Proponents of this view point to the CMO’s increasingly customer-focused view as justification to marketing heads to be the number one decision maker in an operational organization.
Opponents of this view, and backers of a CIO power block suggest that in an increasingly risky and complex environment, only CIOs have the skills that can keep organizations safe and unaffected by external and internal risks. People point to high profile security breaches like those suffered by Target recently as justification for this view.
A recent survey run by the Economist Intelligence Unit in Asia-Pacific, and sponsored by Hitachi Data Systems, sought to deliver some answers to these questions. The survey took in some 1,000 senior executives from 13 countries across Asia-Pacific. The survey crossed a number of verticals (manufacturing, services, technology etc) as well as functional areas (both IT executives and non-technical ones). Half of the respondents had annual revenues over $500 million while the others were smaller.
The survey found that while CIOs have a more-respected position within organizations, there is something of a blockage in terms of CIOs actually achieving higher leadership positions. Some general findings from the research included:
- CIOs have become respected members of a business, but moving up the management ladder may take more time
- Efficiency has become the CIO’s niche; now they need to become drivers of growth
- CIOs need to expand their existing skill set, rather than specialize further
- Technology can differentiate companies in a crowded market, so CIOs must be aligned with external business goals
- Some CIOs have their head in the cloud, while CEOs are demanding hard data
There are a bunch of interesting findings in the report – thing like the CIO’s role when it comes to revenue generation or the CIO’s responsibility for encouraging innovation. But most interesting for me was the fact that it is a glimpse into the reality of the oft-mentioned CIO/CMO power struggle.
Many suggest that in modern enterprises the CMO will become the executive with the bulk of the IT budget as sales and marketing become ever more important (and every more powered by technology). This report however shows the facts are more nuanced than that and there is still unquestionably a place for the CIO at the highest levels within an organization.