CIO & CMO: Are you Soul Mates?

Saturday, July 7, 2012 | comments

At many organizations today, CIO and CMO may just like live at different planet, one is from Mars, the other from Venus, marketing is like a running hare, without too much discipline; IT is too slow as a tortoise, with controlling mindset, but not guarantee it’s a winner. As modern business is no longer the competition between hare and tortoise, it’s about  how they work as a team to outrun the lion.

Now, with emerging digital technologies such as social, mobile and cloud, the latest trend such as consumerization of IT and BYOD-Bring you own device, and big data & advanced analytics at tipping point, can CIO & CMO get to know each other deeper, from stranger to become soul mate?

1. CIO = Chief Innovation Officer, CMO = Chief Motivation Officer

Statistically, 58 percent of IT executives said they were championing, or shaping the digital agenda at their organization, while 19 percent of the marketers said that the digital agendas at their companies were being shaped by IT executives. Instead, 69 percent of marketers said they were the ones in the driver's seat.

So the real issue is not about just listening to “he said and she said”, make a judgment on who should take credit on business’s digital effort,  the emphasis need be put on is about how CIO and CMO work as business partners to create synergy in organization’s digital transformation.

  • Modern CIO is business’s chief innovation officer:  stand at unique position to oversee organization’s most valuable & intangible asset: data, IT is also the steward of business’s information system,  IT need treat marketing as their valuable customers, and think how to delight their common end customers as premium goals. IT can play the pivotal role in managing business innovation journey, to bridge customer frontline department such as sales/marketing, customer service and business back office division such as procurement, finance, HR., etc, and make innovation as end to end business processes.

  • Modern CMO is Chief Motivation Officer: it means the main purpose of marketing is about crafting multi-channel communication with customers, build business brand and reputation, enhance customer’s loyalty, improve customer experience, and motivate better customer behaviors., etc. So when the marketers think they are the ones in the driver’s seat, yes or no, imagine, if IT is an innovation engine of a car (business), even the driver (marketer) holds the key, if engine doesn’t work, the car simply won’t run. 

Modern business need both innovation and motivation, CIO and CMO need work more collaboratively to create true value for business synergistically.


 2. CIO = Chief  Improvement Officer, CMO = Chief  Measurement Officer

  • Modern CIO is also as Chief Improvement Officer, or some call Chief Process Officer, continuously optimize business process is a long term journey for CIOs, in addition, traditional IT driven KPIs may also lack the perception for business to really understand business value IT can bring in, from survey,  46 percent of marketers reported that marketing "is not seen as a priority by the IT executives”,  it’s a good reason for CIO to communicate more with CMO and get further feedback for IT improvement.  

  • Modern CMO is Chief Measurement Officer: marketers usually measure a lot at digital era, from page click to conversion rate, however, don’t forget to share those metrics with your IT partners, to co-develop KPIs and measure IT & marketing more holistically. With IT’s help, marketers can “push & pull” customers at the same time, see customer process from both inside-out and outside-in, CMOs, share more with CIOs for win-win.


 3. CIO = Chief Influence Officer, CMO = Chief Maturity Officer

  • Modern CIO is also Chief Influence Officer, that said, CIO’s leadership depends on the capability to influence executive peers, CEO owns corporate culture, but CIO need become a big influencers on culture in order to keep project on track; CMO has customers, and possible bigger digital budget than CIO,  CIO need also influence CMO on sharing resources and talent, co-tracking project progress, understanding governance and risk management discipline.

  • Modern CMO need be Chief Maturity Officer: from survey: 39 percent of CIOs said that "marketing bypasses them and works directly with the vendor"; and 31 percent said "marketers hinder progress by taking control and isolating IT from solution selection, strategy or implementation.". Marketing may need leverage speed in order to be cohesive with established GRC infrastructure and corporate strategy, marketing may also need become more mature to understand the potential pitfalls they may cause when running a “shadow IT”, without having IT participate in.

Still, only CIO and CMO make positive influence with each other, be mature enough to discuss & brainstorm business priorities and potential loopholes more transparently, the business as a whole can achieve high performance result.

CIO & CMO, learn each other’s dialect or speak the standard business language, work heart to heart, neck to neck, as partners, as soul mate, to embrace 3Ps: People, Process and Progress. 
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