Why can’t CMOs And CIOs just get along?

Discussion
Photo: Getty Images/fizkes
Sep 07, 2021

A study from the CMO Council found corporations with “very effective” CMO-CIO working relationships have sizable advantages in driving data-driven innovation, but that only 23 percent of corporations believe they have attained such collaboration.

The study, in partnership with KPMG, identified three steps to move from “effective” to “very effective” CMO-CIO working relationships:

  1. Adopt an “equal partners” working relationship: In many corporations, either marketing or IT leads the relationship and the other follows. As a result, the leading group often forgoes critical discussions to expedite decision-making and the followers lose the desire to engage fully, increasing the likelihood of gaps in capabilities and requirements. Splitting responsibilities often leads to work being “thrown over the wall” and finger-pointing when problems arise. The authors of the study encourage marketing and IT teams “to take the next step in their relationship” and “start by forming a working relationship that emphasizes an equal partnership in the strategy, selection, deployment and management of MarTech.”
  2. Extend the planning and budgeting horizon: In “effective” relationships, marketing and IT are most likely to plan and budget MarTech on an annual basis. Those with “very effective” relationships are more likely to create a multi-year plan and to estimate funding requirements at least 18 months into the future.
  3. Broaden the use of MarTech performance metrics, insights and recommendations: In “very effective” relationships, teams prioritize everyone interprets performance metrics correctly and stipulate what corrective actions need to be taken. “Effective” relationships fail to include relevant insights and recommendations within performance reports. “Very effective” relationships also use a broader set of metrics and KPIs to evaluate performance.

Gartner finds more than a third of digital marketers indicating that cross-functional relationship building is the most difficult activity they face. The research firm believes marketers are best positioned to drive such collaborations because they are the voice of the customer. Mike McGuire, VP analyst, Gartner, said at last week’s Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, “Marketers are uniquely positioned to gather, interpret, analyze and act on customer insights. This is our superpower and we need to expand it beyond serving marketing to empower those we collaborate and work with.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What should be primary and secondary priorities in driving collaboration between marketing and IT? Should marketing or IT lead martech efforts or can leadership be shared equally?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Blended technology and business teams with shared goals and measures are likely to be a great start, building empathy between both parts of the organization."
"Asking IT and marketing professionals to be respectful of each other and work together is not sufficient. Marketers need basic training in how the software/technology works..."
"Why focus on just the CMO/CIO relationship? What about the CIO/every other department relationship?"

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11 Comments on "Why can’t CMOs And CIOs just get along?"


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Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Retailers need to speak with one voice in technology decisions. Marketing has a far greater budget than IT and often spends a good chunk of that budget creating a mini-IT staff. IT folks are trained in the disciplines of technology whereas marketing is not. This dynamic weakens a retailer’s position to get the best technology for the organization. Retailers need to speak with one technology voice. Just like in raising children, an organization needs to speak with one voice. A vendor will exploit the differing voices if given the opportunity.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

There are few reasons, and some are structural, organizational and cultural. At the risk of some generalizations:

  1. If reporting into a CFO, the IT organizations tend to be overly cost driven, focused on maintaining an existing technology stack;
  2. There is a lot of innovation in marketing technology, and a good portion of it is not enterprise-ready in terms of security, performance and service levels. When IT gets into the mix and raises objections on these, they are seen as road blockers, and will cause friction with marketing leaders who see lost opportunities with not implementing those technologies.
  3. Skills gap. More than ever before, data, analytics and insights make the difference to the strategy. If the organization does not have a data management team or a chief data officer, those roles fall into IT. While CIOs may be business savvy, they do not have teams and resources to execute.

While all of the above true, there are plenty of IT departments and leaders who are stuck in yesterday and refuse to think out of the box and innovate.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

Suresh covered this perfectly. This is a relationship that has been rocky for quite some time, and with all of the new marketing technology butting up against the old legacy systems in many organizations, it will continue to be unless greater collaboration is taken seriously among these two groups. Sounds like the relationship between retailers and suppliers doesn’t it?

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

Departmental silos are the single biggest hindrance to success in retail. The speed of change driving customer attention and loyalty makes it imperative for companies to be able to shift online content and brand narrative on a dime to stay aligned with current events and cultural sentiment. The only way to have this flexibility is for marketing and IT to work in lock step, and since trust is a two way street, both teams must have equal weight to their voice to avoid any backsliding into silos. Making decisions across departments is hard, primarily because we haven’t had to learn how. Forcing teams to work together may be rocky and feel slow initially, but once this skill is mastered then the shackles of siloed thinking are permanently removed.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Since the beginning of time, the “team motto” for almost all corporations is “every department for itself!” You can’t “drive” collaboration, you can only create a circumstance that invites it. Only when you’re not driving do you get to see and appreciate what’s all around you.

The old pyramid structure in which every interest has to fight for itself and where the executive group administers both carrots and sticks assumes that collaboration (aka teamwork), performance and profitability – indeed leadership itself – are simply mechanical processes. In truth, the desire for common unity where one of marketing’s primary goals is the success of technology and vice versa is a matter of vision, spirit, heart, emotion and love. We get nervous with those words so we call it “culture” a word that, once again, tries to mechanize the challenge.

We get so consumed driving collaboration we forget to establish the “Why?” Like throwing the family into the car for a long trip without telling them where.

Oliver Guy
BrainTrust

Some years ago I read predictions that Martech investment would mean that a CMO had more tech spend than a CIO – so the current situation should not be a surprise. The bigger issue is that this is something that will move into other areas too as technology expands – customer service, supply chain, finance. All areas where technology is likely to play a bigger part in the coming years. The approach taken in terms of partnership between CIO and CMO will need to act as a template for others. Blended technology and business teams with shared goals and measures are likely to be a great start, building empathy between both parts of the organization in terms of possibilities and restrictions.

David Spear
BrainTrust

The disconnect between marketing and IT has been in place for decades, but it has reached epic proportions today because of the rapid evolution of digital, enabling shoppers to be super savvy and intelligent in their selections. In many respects, today’s shoppers have more information than the marketers or IT professionals who are supposedly leading them — which makes the collaboration among C-level execs so critical. The primary reason is to win the consumer back, to earn the trust and confidence of the shopper — to stay ahead of the shopper so that brands can deliver moments of delight, surprise and value. Can this be accomplished with shared leadership? Nope, co-sharing duties brings a whole new litany of issues. It’s imperative that the CEO effectively manage his/her team and it’s one of the most important priorities in modern times.

Andrew Blatherwick
BrainTrust

Why focus on just the CMO/CIO relationship? What about the CIO/every other department relationship? If a company prioritizes marketing’s relationship with IT they will ignore the rest of the business, be less efficient and probably unable to deliver on whatever promises the marketers make anyway.

CIOs need to be able to listen to and understand the needs of all parts of the business then work with the leadership team to set priorities. There is no point having an amazing tech-led marketing offering if you are not able to execute against it.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

You went where I dared not go, Andrew. You are so right – there is never isolated non-collaboration as in marketing vs IT. In far too many cases you could take an organizational chart and write “vs” between every box. When ALL the energy within an organization becomes aligned and passionately focused on turning their highest possibilities into reality, they become invincible. Collaboration becomes as effortless as breathing.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust
After having worked on a project to bring IT and Marketing businesspeople and academics on several projects that have since been abandoned, here is my insight. In general, IT professionals want to make things work which means performing an activity reliably. They are not especially interested in the outcome x as long as the process does what is is supposed to do. An example is that on one project I worked, someone who was one of three experts able to make a piece of software work. He walked me through the process and explanation. I had an overall understanding of the process, but not all the details. At the end of the explanation, I asked what would a marketing manager do with these results. His response, “wow, you ask hard questions. I have no idea.” On the other hand, marketers, in general, receive very little technology training except for statistics. They are concerned about the customers, the tools, the responses, and predictability. Having tried to teach marketing faculty and students how to use some of… Read more »
W. Frank Dell II
BrainTrust

It is best to understand that these are two different types of people. Marketing is creative, always looking for a point of difference. Providing good data that marketing can search and search is what they need. Additionally, they want the ability to measure each element they change and do not know what it will be tomorrow.

Technology lives in a logical path. They have a defined end product that does not change and only needs to be prepared. Further technology works with numbers and if/then statements. Another way to look at is marketing changes daily and technology does not. Equal partners should envision the end environment and work together each project to move closer to the goal.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Blended technology and business teams with shared goals and measures are likely to be a great start, building empathy between both parts of the organization."
"Asking IT and marketing professionals to be respectful of each other and work together is not sufficient. Marketers need basic training in how the software/technology works..."
"Why focus on just the CMO/CIO relationship? What about the CIO/every other department relationship?"

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