How To Close The CMO-CIO Trust Gap And Bolster Corporate Growth


Marketing, On

August 28, 2013

This article is by Glen Hartman, global managing director of digital consulting at Accenture Interactive.

It’s a given that companies are being driven largely by information technology in today’s age of big data, analytics and digital and mobility breakthroughs. So why is it that CIOs, the corporate executives responsible for delivering that technology, and CMOs, the executives who are often one of the primary beneficiaries of that technology, just can’t seem to collaborate?

For starters, a new survey by Accenture Interactive, The CMO-CIO Disconnect, shows that most CMOs (64 percent) believe that CIOs place marketing IT at the bottom of their priority list. With projections indicating that marketing executives will likely spend even more on IT and analytics than their technology counterparts in the years ahead, this has to be particularly unsettling to any CMO who shares such a point of view.

Nearly half (46 percent) of the CIOs surveyed, on the other hand, believe that marketing does not provide them with an adequate level of business requirements, which ostensibly inhibits them from providing marketing with the IT support it requires.

Both marketing and IT executives know they have their work cut out for them – 90 percent, in fact, believe they need to become more collaborative. Until this becomes a reality, however, the biggest loser may very well be the customer. When technology is put to its best and most effective use, it provides marketers with the consumer insights and intelligence they need – in real time, nowadays – to create and deliver the products and services customers want.

Yet while CMOs say that gaining customer insight is their primary motivation for collaborating with IT, CIOs rank it 10th on their list of reasons to collaborate. Improving the customer experience impacts the bottom line, and big organizations must determine how to close the big gap in trust that obviously exists between marketing and IT in order to make that happen. Today’s multichannel consumer demands highly relevant experiences, and with digital and analytics platforms emerging to help companies respond, marketing and IT executives must work more closely together to be successful.

Despite their ongoing differences, both CMOs and CIOs believe their relationship has improved over the past year – 45 percent of marketing executives and 47 percent of IT executives share this opinion. If CMO-CIO relationships are, in fact, improving, it may be the ideal time to take some steps to strengthen the collaboration further.

A good way to start would be to focus on creating a shift in mindset when considering the roles of the CMO and the CIO and their organizations in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. For instance, the CMO should be looked at as a Chief Experience Officer, rather than the person responsible for branding, advertising and number-crunching. After all, the CMO is ultimately responsible for designing and driving a customer experience that is consistently first rate at every customer touch point within the company. At the same time, the CIO must be viewed as a strategic partner to the top marketing executive and not just the chief technology platform provider.

Organizations also need to update the skills mix in both their marketing and IT operations so marketing practitioners can become more tech savvy and people in the IT organization become more agile and responsive to market demands. Additionally, both the marketing and IT organizations should agree on key business levers and embrace tools, processes and platforms to understand consumer intent and unlock consumer value.

Taking the necessary steps to strengthen marketing’s and IT’s ability to agree on how technology can be most appropriately applied to drive their company’s specific marketing needs can only help a business. When results such as increased brand affinity, loyalty and sales growth are only a few of the benefits that can be incurred, not only will the CMO and CIO benefit, all members of the C-suite–and most important, the consumer–will win.

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