As CMOs and CIOs Collaborate, There Will Be Growing Pains

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The two chiefs are working closer than ever, but are they working well?

Overlapping roles, accessible technology, and an abundance of data has compelled embracive marketing and tech collaboration. In fact, 43% of marketers and 50% of IT leaders say their relationship with one another has improved over the past year, according to new data from consulting services company Accenture.

These figures suggest an impending collapse of silos, but the study—which surveyed 1,100 senior marketing and IT executives—found that this growth isn't without friction. “CMOs and CIOs seem to feel that they're collaborating more, but there are still some key factors that they remain at odds on,” says Glen Hartman, managing director for digital transformation at Accenture.

Though roughly half of respondents from each function rank marketing-tech alignment near the top of their priority lists, their disaccord is clear. Forty percent of CMOs believe their company's IT team doesn't understand the urgency of integrating new data into campaigns; 43% of CMOs claim that their company's tech development process is too slow for digital marketing's transient nature. Similarly, 25% of CIOs feel that CMOs lack the vision to anticipate digital trends. And according to 43% of IT executives, marketing's requirements and priorities change too often.

Much of this friction comes from businesses' inherent digital-tardiness. “Keeping up with everything that's going on will continue to be a challenge in [each organization's] own functions, let alone combined,” Hartman says. “This will take active action on both sides, but the need is there. Businesses see that.”

That doesn't mean marketers have to force a relationship with their IT brethren.  There are several avenues for natural collaboration, including data management and analytics. “Start looking at shared metrics,” Hartman suggests. “Right now, the CMO and CIO look at different numbers and these things can be at odds. [Marketing and IT] need to find some shared goals to rally around to drive real, transformational change and break down silos.”

As marketing's and IT's roles become increasingly intertwined, both must strive to keep the customer at the top of their priority list. Indeed, this is one area the two camps seem to agree on. According to the study, customer experience ranks at the top of both marketing's and IT's priorities.

“Marketers need to continue to be true advocates for customer centricity. We have so many tools to get to know the customer better. [This] is an opportunity for CMOs to step up,” Hartman explains. “In many ways the CIOs have stepped up sooner, but CMOs can put their customer knowledge at the forefront of the business. [CMOs] can advocate for rallying the full enterprise around the customer and craft experiences around customer journeys.”

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