CIO Magazine: September Issue

CIO-CMO Marriage Strained, But Can Be Saved

Like any relationship, the one between CIOs and CMOs requires trust and empathy to succeed. According to research from Accenture, there’s still a ways to go for the marriage to become a happy union.

Forced into an arranged marriage of sorts, the CIO and CMO are trying their best to make things work. Still, disagreements arise. One out of four CIOs believe CMOs lack the vision to anticipate new digital channels, while many CMOs say CIOs lack the urgency needed to respond to shifting market conditions.

These are some of the key findings in a recent Accenture survey of more than 1,100 senior marketing and IT executives. Accenture's report comes at a significant time: The traditionally strained CIO-CMO relationship has never been more important in the age of the digital customer. In the survey, more than half of CMOs and CIOs rank alignment between their departments at the top (or near the top) of their priority lists.

"Getting this relationship right is critical for delivering seamless, omni-channel experiences for customers," says Brian Whipple, senior managing director of Accenture Interactive. "The CMO needs to develop a vision and strategy for how customers experience the brand, while the CIO needs to deliver the tools and technology to bring those experiences and campaigns to life."

[Related: Inside the Minds (and Personalities) of CIOs and CMOs]

At the heart of the problematic relationship lies the difference in the perception of speed. In the survey, 43 percent of CMOs complain that the technology development process is too slow, while an equal percent of CIOs say marketing requirements and priorities change too often for them to keep up.

Battle in the C-Suite

The past year has exposed these CMO-CIO clashes.

For instance, 44 percent of respondents said they've had problems implementing marketing or IT projects that further digital marketing effectiveness, up from 36 percent last year. Also, 42 percent of CIOs and CMOs said technology is silo-ed and too cumbersome for cross-channel customer experiences, up from 34 percent last year.

In the most dramatic spike, 25 percent of CIOs feel CMOs lack vision with emerging digital channels, up from 11 percent last year.

[Related: Apple's History Offers Insight Into CMO-CIO Relationship ]

On the upside, the CMO-CIO relationship has improved over the past year, or at least the two executives are trying to improve it. In the survey, 43 percent of CMOs and 50 percent of CIOs say they're working more collaboratively than ever despite the clashes.

Of course, there's still a ways to go. Only one out of four respondents say collaboration is currently at the right level, up from a paltry 10 percent last year.

accenture CMO-CIO Marriage Accenture

(Click image to view full-size version.)

Here's Accenture's infographic summarizing its findings:

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