The Rise of the CMO/CIO Partnership

BrandPost By Aaron Goldberg
Mar 24, 2020
IT Leadership

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Credit: iStock

Historically, the CIO and CMO rarely interacted. That’s changing, though, as digital marketing tools and apps take hold and increase in number, complexity, and importance. In the first phase of marketing automation, the marketing team was usually the primary decision maker in the purchase of these tools, and it often kept management and operation in-house. Now, however, it’s becoming clear that to effectively utilize and operate next-generation marketing and customer experience systems, the CMO and CIO must build a partnership to ensure the success of these tools.

“As these systems become more complex and contain more data, the CMO and marketing team will benefit from working with the CIO and IT team to ensure that IT is optimizing both the operational and security aspects of marketing’s digital systems,” said Cynthia Stoddard, CIO and SVP at Adobe.

Combining IT’s technical skills and know-how with the marketing team’s expertise about the customer journey and marketing processes puts the organization on the path to success.

Stoddard added, “A partnership between IT and marketing will leverage the strengths of each team. And working together ensures that the right technology is in place to scale personalized customer communication across offline and digital channels. In 2020 and beyond, it will be very hard for companies to succeed that still work in heavy silos.”

The CMO/CIO partnership is indicative of a broader change in the role of IT and how it interacts with operating teams. As digital systems become essential to the business, IT has moved into providing guidance to the functional groups. IT’s ability to ensure operational and security integrity is a valuable complement for operational departments. IT no longer is acting as an arbiter or trying to control the technology purchases, but instead is providing consulting and insight to ensure that new systems will deliver as promised.

Count the benefits

A partnership between the CMO and the CIO in managing digital systems brings specific benefits. These include:

  • Delivering the desired application performance levels—Being certain that both cloud-based and on-premises systems will be responsive and perform as needed is essential to the success of the system.
  • Providing data protection, backup, and security—Data loss is a huge problem, whether it results from system failures, cybertheft, or human error. Preventing it is critical.
  • Seamless customer journey—When data is shared easily across the organization, all customer interaction can be viewed and evaluated. This allows the organization to deliver personalization at scale, a critical capability.
  • Improved customer service—Breaking down siloes and creating one customer “truth” eliminate customer service frustration. When customer data is in many different, unrelated systems, the online customer service experience can seem disjointed and complex. Telephone-based support fares no better as agents make the customer wait while they switch apps and screens.
  • Consulting on compliance/governance issues—The EU’s GDPR is just the beginning of an increasing focus on data privacy and protection. Marketing teams often have specific issues to solve, and the amount of customer data held in marketing systems makes them a focus of regulators.

Marketing apps and tools are now as mission-critical as any financial system. As Stoddard notes, “Today IT is customer-centric, and marketing is data-oriented. Both groups are building upon their expertise and becoming more aligned around the customer experience.”

The CMO/CIO partnership empowers marketing professionals to add new capabilities more quickly and focus on innovation. IT will provide the skills to operate and manage these digital systems, allowing marketing to continually look forward.

To learn three tips for better CMO/CIO collaboration, read this article.

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