Why CMOs Won't Control Your IT Budget

CIOs are partnering with their marketing chiefs more than ever, but they’re not waiting around for marching orders. Getting to know the customer is job one for them, too.

The topic of CIO-CMO collaboration is white-hot these days, with Gartner doing its part to fan the flames by predicting that by 2017, chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than CIOs do.

Of course, this isn't the first time a line-of-business function has been seen as a major IT decision-maker--the most recent function to play that role is finance. But that had more to do with ROI, total cost of ownership and cost containment than driving the business. With disruptive technologies like cloud and upstart vendors bypassing IT to sell marketing analytics and other tools for engaging with customers, it certainly makes sense that CMOs are becoming a more powerful force in enterprise IT.

But CIOs are not standing idly by. In fact, you told us in

our latest Economic Outlook survey
that 28 percent of your budgets are now allocated to "edge" technologies (mobile, cloud and social) rather than core tech. That number is expected to jump to 39 percent by 2015. Even more telling, more than 75 percent of the 188 IT executive respondents we surveyed named top-line revenue growth and better customer engagement as priorities leading their business agendas.

Our most recent State of the CIO research
also shows CIOs becoming increasingly proactive about getting closer to the customer. Fully one-third of you get out to visit customers now, versus 18 percent two years ago.

Building a strong partnership with your CMO is smart, of course, but someone has to make sure that the bets being placed on these edge technologies are good ones.

Will the CMO make sure new technologies map to the overall enterprise IT architecture and integrate with your legacy back office? Will marketing chiefs make sure all the requisite security and compliance standards are met? Will they ensure that a startup vendor will still be around if something goes wrong in 18 months? Not likely. These critical responsibilities will fall squarely on the CIO, where the lion's share of the IT budget will remain.

While I don't doubt that CIO-CMO collaboration will be great for the business, I don't believe CMOs will surpass CIOs in IT budget responsibilities anytime soon. We'll be exploring these topics in greater depth this June at The CIO/CMO Agenda event, which we're hosting in partnership with The CMO Club in San Francisco. I'd welcome your thoughts on topics we should cover at this event, so please drop me a note at the email below.

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