How CIOs are Finding Unlikely Partnerships with CMOs

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Successful business ventures usually come down to effective collaboration and teamwork. After all, a good team that works well together can overcome almost any challenge if they set their minds to it. Unfortunately, many organizations still operate as if they’re only a collection of separate divisions with high walls keeping them apart. This has largely been true when it comes to marketing teams and IT. However, with the progress of technology in just the past few years, IT and marketing have come crashing into each other. Now, their combined success is often dependent on working together. Getting over the more traditional divisions, though, takes patience and hard work. But in the end, if the CIO and CMO are able to establish a productive and cooperative partnership, they’ll find a lot more success together than they would as separate entities.

One of the main reasons IT and marketing have found themselves working together is the rise of big data analytics within the business world. It’s no secret that most companies have quickly shifted into the digital realm, and solving big data challenges is a large part of it. Marketing has come to rely on performing analytics, turning them into a data-driven division of the company. This of course makes plenty of business sense, because according to McKinsey, businesses that let big data drive their decisions are 6 percent more profitable and 5 percent more productive. Marketers have also become increasingly used to the idea of automation while using the latest in technology to transform the customer experience into a more positive one. CMOs that endeavor to bring all this technology on can quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the challenge of it all. That’s where the CIO can play a pivotal role.

Fostering a successful partnership between the CIO and CMO means breaking down many of the barriers that separated them in the first place. That also means a transformation of their more common roles into something a bit different. For example, the CIO must see IT as less of a cost center and more as a way to make the business more profitable and oriented toward growth. In other words, CIOs need to see themselves as a key player in using their technological prowess to solve business problems, rather than seeing themselves only as someone to solve technological problems. This certainly applies to a CIO’s partnership with the CMO, but far too often, both sides butt heads rather than work together. They have different ideas in mind in addition to how best to implement those ideas. Think of it as a combination of possessing different philosophies along with egos.

In order to come together as a cohesive unit, CMOs and CIOs need to identify a set of common goals they can both work toward together. Since much of their work revolves around enhancing the customer experience, determining what results to shoot for should be one of their first priorities. During the whole process, communication is extremely important. A team that fails to communicate is only setting themselves for further problems later on down the road. Good communication also requires full transparency for what each side is doing, why they’re doing it, and how it fits with the bigger picture. Helpful CIOs don’t just tell marketing teams which data analysis tools they should use, they explain why and how they should be used. Effective communication builds trust, which is indispensable on the road to success.

In addition to becoming a great partnership, each CMO’s and CIO’s individual teams have important roles to play as well. When building a team, leaders should think about not only their team’s specific needs but the needs of the other side as well. That means CIOs should hire IT people who have an understanding in marketing, while CMOs should hire people who know all about IT. This will facilitate communication and encourage even further collaboration.

The CIO-CMO partnership may seem like an unlikely one, but considering the advances made in technology and the increasing use of big data to improve the customer experience, perhaps it should be a surprise. Technology has made its way into every facet of business. Whether a company is using cloud computing, flash storage, or a new analytics platform, the organizational silos of before no longer apply. CMOs and CIOs need to find ways to work together to increase chances of success not only for themselves but for the company as a whole.

Rick Delgado
Freelance Writer
I've been blessed to have a successful career and have recently taken a step back to pursue my passion of writing. I've started doing freelance writing and I love to write about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet. I also occasionally write for tech companies like Dell.

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