Hope Springs Eternal for CMOs and CIOs

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CMOs and CIOs are all under one silo at top companies.
CMOs and CIOs are all under one silo at top companies.

The Digital Age has handed companies untold powers of customer intelligence and engagement, and much has been made over which corporate duchies will wield them. But a study from the CMO Council finds that peace has been declared between CMOs and CIOs at an elite group of companies—and they're not the “built for Big Data” startups one might expect.

“It's become vogue for people to shout that the CIO and the CMO need to be aligned, but when we started asking about it at very large global organizations, their answer was, ‘We are. We've formed partnerships and dialogs. The arguments are over,'” says Liz Miller, VP of the CMO Council, referring to an online audit of nearly 500 senior marketing and IT executives that resulted in the report, “Aligning the CMO & CIO.”

While the group of marketers and IT executives who claimed they had achieved a “total partnership” was small—11% of the field—their organizations' revenues tended to be large, topping $500 billion. “They still have problems, but while silos are were identified as the primary roadblock by most in the study, this group said their biggest problems were training the right people and lack of budget,” Miller says.

More than two thirds of these happily engaged CMOs and CIOs said they considered working with the other a priority in their jobs. As a result, 42% of marketers at these companies said they are “highly satisfied” with their ability to reach customers via “critical” touchpoints. A smaller group of CIOs (30%) were as satisfied, but that just portends more good things for marketers—42% of whom claimed that they're not missing any pertinent customer data since forming tight bonds with IT.

More of the “totally partnered” respondents (24% of marketers, 30% of IT) identified the CEO as the “owner” of the customer at their companies than the sample as a whole. Indeed, 19% of marketers said that sales departments should take charge of the customer, followed by the CEO and CMO. Interestingly, CIOs gave higher customer precedence to CMOs than CMOs themselves did, placing them second behind CEOs.

“It seems as if the companies doing the best with this situation were the ones whose CEOs had drawn a line in the sand,” Miller says. “Sales owning the customer? God help us! Their compensation depends on them hoarding the data.”

When surveying the entire universe of marketers, however, silos still block their paths to true communion with CIOs and, in turn, their customers. More than half of the marketers surveyed (52%) named functional silos as their biggest obstacles, followed by lack of a customer-centric corporate culture and the appropriate technology platforms to manage data and customer profiles.

But the silos are quickly breaking down, the study says. When asked at what point in a marketing campaign they now involve IT, 45% of marketers say “from the very start.” That's crucial, according to Olly Downs, SVP of data sciences at Globys, who has been on the IT side of things during many years in the telecom industry. “What often happens is that IT makes a large capital investment in Big Data and fails to deliver on a project. Then the business owner comes in and says that what the CIO purchased didn't really meet their needs,” he says. “There's now a realization that CMOs have to engage CIOs earlier and earlier and make them key influencers in marketing decisions.”

As that scenario continues to play out, both CMOs and CIOs might see solutions materializing to confront the biggest problem they share in common: lack of budget. “As the two work together and become better at delivering ROI,” Miller says, “they begin to make business cases that show the CEO where they need to move the needle. Then they'll start seeing the budget growing slightly.”

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