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CIOs and CMOs: Power couple or strange bedfellows?

Forced marriage of IT and marketing gets off to a rocky start

By Robert Mullins, Network World
January 06, 2014 06:49 AM ET
CMOs vs CIOs
Credit: Wikiepedia.org

Network World - Marketing departments are shifting significant amounts of their own budgets toward IT-related products and services, independent of what the IT department spends, to the extent that Gartner predicts that by 2017 chief marketing officers (CMO) will spend more money on IT than chief information officers (CIO).

Whether Gartner’s prediction comes to pass or not, Forrester analyst Sheryl Pattek predicts that, out of necessity, CMOs and CIOs will team up to become a `C-suite power couple’. But she adds that at this early point, the CMO/CIO power sharing relationship “is in need of serious couple’s therapy.”

Pattek, who focuses on CMOs, recently published a study in which she said, “While on the surface, CMOs and CIOs seem to agree, only one in 10 marketing and IT executives (in an Accenture study) said collaboration is at the right level.’’

Pattek also cited another 2013 survey, a joint effort of Forrester and Forbes magazine, which showed that while some progress has been made, “true collaboration remains a long way off in the areas of technology selection and joint project implementation.’’

Some of the reason for the rocky start is that CMOs and CIOs are focused on different priorities. CMOs are pursuing marketing goals while CIOs are focused on back office operations and on controlling costs.

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Also, while IT and marketing are coming to an understanding about joint goals, “marketing wants the tools delivered yesterday,” she wrote, while IT prefers a more deliberative approach. She also notes that marketing technology is still in the fairly early stages of development.

“The company’s ability to succeed depends on how customer-obsessed they are and how much they understand their customers and their wants and needs. And to do that, what’s needed are great insight, an understanding of the market and really good technology,” says Pattek.

The Motorola mind-meld

One way to avoid conflict between CMOs and CIOs is to put both functions in the hands of one person.

Motorola Solutions – the part of the communications technology company not acquired by Google in 2011 – did just that, appointing Eduardo Conrado senior vice president of marketing and IT.

“What prompted Motorola Solutions to have marketing and IT under the same executive committee member was a desire to take IT and put a greater focus around the customer and the front office,” says Conrado. “Previously, IT was reporting into the head of operations and products, which meant a lot of focus on back-office operations. We saw that IT can be a differentiator for our company when it is focused around the customer.”

When realigning the IT function, he says, Motorola saw that if it is not directly reporting to the CEO, marketing was a natural alignment due to its focus on sales, channel partners, customers, and other groups. And Conrado made a point of saying that marketing and IT were not in competition for budget dollars.

Over the last three years, Motorola has been transitioning to a whole series of digital tools that included social media tools, marketing automation tools, sales force automation, customer and channel portals and analytics tools.

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