A CIO-CMO Disconnect: Answers

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A CIO-CMO Disconnect
A CIO-CMO Disconnect

Recap: A CIO who's strategic about marketing—When Rocket Toys CMO Emilio Carbone sets a goal, he wants to move on it now. For this reason, cloud-based tools are Carbone's go-to solution when he requires technology to support Rocket's marketing. Carbone's tactical approach to technology has created data and operational silos both within the marketing organization and between marketing and such customer-facing groups as customer service and sales.

CIO Robin Frye knows that if she and Carbone were to collaborate, he would continue to get what he needs quickly, while the company's long-term strategies would improve. Carbone, however, rebuffs Frye's offers to assist him with technology selection. Frye is struggling to find the right approach to gaining Carbone's collaboration.

Click here to read the complete challenge.

September winner: Adele Sweetwood, VP, Americas marketing and support, SAS

Telling a CMO to put your “big boy pants on and deal with it” probably won't have the desired effect, so Frye should ask herself two questions and be brutally honest:

1. Does marketing trust IT? If not, why not?

2. What value does IT provide to marketing?

Lack of trust grows from the sense that you're not being heard or understood. Fixing the rift takes more than changing perceptions—it's time to upend practice.

Frye should offer one of her top managers a marketing liaison position. By joining meetings and learning the business of marketing, IT can proactively meet marketing's needs. As a first step they might suggest a meaningful collaboration to demonstrate value. Let's be honest: If Frye had pitched marketing automation to Carbone rather than the reverse, she'd be holding the reins.

But with alternative paths ever more available, does marketing really need IT? What can IT do for marketing? For starters, I doubt any marketing organization, flying solo, has access to and views of all customer data. This is usually the purview of IT. So, while Carbone may think he is delivering a holistic customer experience through dynamic offers, and analytically driven decisions, he may be wrong. He needs better data, and more of it.

Frye needs to show Carbone the research that proves the benefits when IT and marketing collaborate. There is plenty from which to choose. Accenture's report is a good roadmap of how a CMO-CIO alliance can build customer loyalty and unparalleled advocacy. An Aberdeen study found that 40% of best-in-class companies use data-driven marketing.

IT is invaluable in providing quality data management to fuel this. IT and marketing can work together or they can ignore each other. Which would improve the customer experience and increase revenue? That is one question that the CEO needs to ask both of them.

Other responses:

  • David Brown, EVP, MXM

Carbone's desire to go solo could be for a few reasons. First, he may be over-simplifying the technical challenges that lie ahead. Second, he may be frustrated by being slowed down by the CIO. Third, there may be a need to justify headcount.

Frye should help Carbone think through how their boss, the CEO, would want them to operate. The CEO has invested in them both because of their expertise, and will expect the highest levels of collaboration. Anything less would likely push this assignment into the growing pile of failed technology implementations in the marketing world.

Frye must get from Carbone a clearly defined set of business requirements that explain the need for marketing automation software. These business requirements need to be signed off on by each department head that is affected.

Then Frye should get ahead of Carbone's need. She must develop a robust approach to evaluate all the options for marketing automation software that's right for their business, offers a scalable infrastructure that supports the company's needs into the medium-term, and works for their budget. Additionally, Frye should assign someone from her team to become the go-to expert in marketing automation options. That person can then train and support Carbone's team on how to become expert users of the tool, once implemented.

  • Jeff Zwelling, CEO and cofounder, Convertro

CIOs and CMOs need to learn to work together to reap the greatest benefits. Frye should explain that she wants to help Carbone with this technical endeavor. She should applaud Carbone for recognizing and understanding the value of technology in increasing a company's capabilities and efficiencies.

Frye should explain to Carbone that it's great that he's recognizing the benefits of technology, which she as a CIO has always known to be true. With her expertise, she can help him make the best decisions. She can explain that since he'll be spending more of his budgets on IT she should get involved in these decisions, as Carbone will be exposed to new challenges and obstacles that Frye can help him work through.

Frye needs to understand that Carbone's initiative to use quantitative data in the decision-making process should make her feel more comfortable with his decisions. Frye can still offer to help, but she also needs to recognize that Carbone is moving in that direction.

Ultimately, the CIO and CMO should have the same goal: doing what's best for the company. So they need to unite in that effort. It's not the CMO's or the CIO's spend on technology; it's the company's spend on innovation and improvement.

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