Can’t You Just Get Along? CIO, CMO = No Strong Bond

Apryl Casale September 03, 2014
Can’t You Just Get Along? CIO, CMO = No Strong Bond

SundaySky president and chief revenue officer Jim Dicso spoke with CMSWire’s Kelly Bilodeau recently on improving CMO and CIO collaboration and alignment, as a result of Accenture’s recent report “Cutting Across the CMO-CIO Divide.” Below is the full article by Kelly Bilodeau, which was first published August 28, 2014 on CMSWire

In a digital world, marketing and IT functions have become inextricably linked. But are the players in each space getting along?

Not necessarily, according to a 2014 Accenture Interactive report that shows that chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) don’t always share a strong bond.

To create its 2014 report, “Cutting across the CMO-CIO divide: Digital drives a new wave of collaboration,” Accenture Interactive polled an international group of more than 1,100 senior marketing and IT executives. The results found that while the relationship between these the holders of these two job titles has improved considerably over the past few years, there remains room for improvement.

“While 43 percent of marketers and 50 percent of IT leaders think their relationship with the other has improved over the past year, less than one-quarter (23 percent) of marketers think the level of collaboration between CMOs and CIOs and their organizations is at or approaching the ‘right level’ now,” according to the report.

Not surprising?

The results are earth-shattering, Jim Dicso, president and chief revenue officer at SundaySky, a personalized video platform, told CMSWire.

“In my experience, the CIO often times has a lot of his organization focused on managing legacy systems, and the process for legacy systems means that there are reasonably long cycles and processes to manage,” he added. “Alternatively, in the marketing organization, CMOs need to be able to redirect both focus and investments in real-time. As a result, there is always the challenge of investments for one function, marketing, relying on another function, IT, to pull forward a lot of weight from the legacy systems.

If your CIO and CMO have a dysfunctional relationship, your organization can suffer. “Companies want to leverage customer data that’s coming from many disparate sources,” said Dicso. “It’s a strategic imperative and critical for both groups to work together in order to gain access to the customer data that will help them make educated decisions about go-to marketing strategies and tactics for acquiring and retaining customers.”

What to do

If your CIO/CMO relationship needs a little relationship counseling, change some of the ways you view your business to help put things back on the right track.

Start by defining a plan and a common vision for the organization.“Brands need to start with the holistic picture of the customer they are trying to build – their ‘ideal’ customer,” Dicso said.

Envision who that customer is, he added, then define data elements that will help your organization effectively engage with that individual. The CMO and CIO should collaborate to develop an architecture that gives marketing access to those data elements in real time.

“For instance, in our business we partner with the CMO and his organization for targeted, personalized customer engagement,” says Dicso. “More and more, the CMO pulls in an IT executive for alignment and agreement on defining the data elements needed to power personalized customer communications in real-time.”

Scrap the old-world view that digital is a channel, according to the report. What digital should be is a means to transform your business.

“Instead, CMOs and CIOs have the opportunity to come together and steward new products and services that arise as a result of a digital business model and mindset,” according to the report.

Ideally, the CMO and CIO should work as part of an integrated team.

“The debate is no longer about whether CMOs and CIOs should align,” according to the report. “The digital wave cuts across the functional divide and will wash away the senior marketers and IT executives who stay in their existing sand castle, no matter how intricate its design or effective its moat.”

How long will this be an issue?

This isn’t the first report on the CMO-CIO relationship. CMSWire wrote a Primer on the CMO, CIO Collaboration in February and another article on the importance of this collaboration last December, just to name a few.

Is it time to shelve the debate — and just tell everyone to get along?