The CIO-CMO relationship is one of the most important in any digital business. Get the relationship right and it will result in sustained innovation and growth and deliver enhanced customer and staff experience.\nGet it wrong, and even in organisations where the CEO professes to embrace digital transformation and the CIO and CMO want to work together, both your operations and your digital transformation agenda will struggle.\nCreating strategic partnerships between the CIO and the CMO was the focus of a major piece of research conducted by CIO.co.uk for Adobe and Microsoft, and was the theme of a symposium, \u2018Charting the new CIO-CMO accord, held in London in June 2019.\nChily Fachler, the Chief Digital and Information Officer of Steinhoff UK Retail, a \u00a3700m turnover company operating the Bensons for Beds and Harveys furniture high street brands, led off the discussion by drawing on his own experience \u2013 being promoted from CIO to a role which adds in Chief Digital Officer responsibilities.\n\u2018I\u2019ve always been frustrated that digital has been seen as the domain of the creative part of the business. While that is correct, it also has to be led by other parts of the business', said Fachler, whose Chief Digital and Information Officer role was created after the marketing director left.\nIt has proved a steep learning curve, but after six months, Fachler says, the IT and marketing teams are working more closely than ever before.\nThere has been a notion that IT and marketing have traditionally clashed, he said, \u2013 citing, \u2018the spectre of shadow IT.\u2019 But, he warned, \u2018that fear \u2013 who has got control of it (technology)? Whose budget does it belong to? will kill companies. There is so much that both sides have to give to make it work.\u2019\n\u2018I\u2019m finding, bringing it all together, that we are talking about things we wouldn\u2019t have done before, because it was all too siloed. There\u2019s the art and the science. IT is about the science and marketing is about the art, but you can\u2019t do one without the other.\u2019\n\u2018I\u2019m saying use the data and then talk to the customer. Do I know how to talk to the customer? Not nearly as well as the marketing people do. Do I know how to understand the customer? Well I can help\u2026 Bringing it together has been eye opening for me and it is working pretty well.\u2019\nThe CIO survey, however, presented a more fractured picture with 26 percent saying the CIO and CMO \u2018are strategic partners in meeting our corporate goals,\u2019 but 23 percent saying, \u2018The CIO and CMO are struggling to align their thinking, priorities and systems.\u2019\nPanellist Martin Smith, Head of EMEA Partner Marketing at Adobe, said active intervention by the CEO was essential in overcoming problems of a CIO \u2013 CMO split and questions of systems and data ownership. \u2018Organisations have to be data driven from the top,\u2019 he said. \u2018Who owns the data, is then, no longer a question, because everything is driven from the board.\u2019\nExecutive mandates are essential but real-world problems will continue to exist. Issues associated with data quality and data siloes loom large in every enterprise and featured at the CIO-CMO discussion. This prompted Gia Thom from Microsoft to speak about the Open Data Initiative which is being jointly developed by Microsoft, Adobe and SAP. It provides a common data platform that allows businesses to more easily break down data siloes and develop AI-driven insights that enhance customer experience.\nShe cited the example of EasyJet, where IT and marketing combined to deliver a \u2018Look and Book\u2019 system that presented Instagram consumers browsing holiday venue pictures with relevant travel advertising \u2013 and a great ROI for the airline.\nThom also cited Unilever, which is using data from its SAP systems combined with marketing data residing in Adobe-based systems to work out how best to carry through a pledge to use totally Green packaging by 2025.\nThe Open Data Initiative is powered by three major vendors, but data has also been subject to increased regulatory intervention. Last year\u2019s GDPR deadline provided a wake-up call for many businesses around their acquisition, storage and use of data. Fachler said whatever concerns he may initially have had about GDPR being a burden, quickly disappeared. \u2018It was the right thing to do, and the rules are quite sensible. You want customers on the database who want to be there.\u2019\nAudience member Philip Clayson, CIO at property group Countrywide PLC, agreed. \u2018The requirement to achieve compliance on a single given date, and within relatively short timelines, by all companies from FTSE to start-up, helped to avoid a multi-tier business society, where large enterprises where favoured or penalised over small ones,\u2019 he said.\nThe lasting value, he added, will though come from ensuring GDPR compliance \u2018is maintained, and that regulation continues to provide the appropriate governance in the long term, and that GDPR activity within companies keeps appropriate momentum.\u2019\nAnother CIO described how GDPR regulation crashed into unrealistic targets set by the board. \u2018The board believed volume of records in our CRM was important and targeted us with doubling the numbers. GDPR meant we more than halved the size but those records remaining were active and since May 2018 it has grown again to pre GDPR cleansing sizes, with a substantially higher percentage of active records. The importance is the quality and accuracy of the data and not the quantity.\u2019\nWhile the panel and the audience were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the new CIO-CMO accord, there was a discussion about whether the roles could be merged and about differences between IT and marketing and the position of Chief Digital Officers in an organisation.\nJeremy Dunderdale, Head of Business Solutions at restaurant chain TGI Fridays, put the issue succinctly. \u2018If the CIO and CMO merge, where does that leave finance and the other core components of the business?\u00a0\u00a0IT and marketing need to work more closely, but IT should be working closely with all components of the business, as IT is core to all business functions.\u2019\nA CMO, in the mainly CIO audience, said the discussion convinced him that marketing had to start selling itself internally. \u2018We have to build a bridge of explanation to the rest of the business about what marketing is, and we have to complement it with knowledge the CIO brings. I\u2019ve never had a negative experience with the IT department,\u2019 he added.\nNikolaos Giannakakis, the Chief Technical Officer at British American Tobacco, was keen to highlight the CTO\u2019s role as the \u2018gateway to innovation\u2019 in the new digital landscape and a \u2018provider of a robust innovation pipeline to feed the CIO-CMO partnership\u2019.\n\u2018The CIO,\u2019 he said, \u2018is responsible for the best fit of traditional applications and solutions to the organisation and also the key custodian of business transformation from within, whereas the CTO is the doorkeeper of the overall innovation.\u2019\nWith job titles evolving as rapidly as the business environment changes, Fachler thought the question of whether IT and Marketing functions should merge, or job titles should merge was less significant than whether organisations could form an \u2018alliance of teams\u2019 to deliver digital transformation. \u2018There is a lot to be said for the marketing function getting to know the customers, then you as the IT department enabling it,\u2019 he said.\nIf there was a general willingness to embrace the new CIO-CMO accord, Countrywide\u2019s Clayson noted that not only did organisation\u2019s CEO and board have to drive digital from the top, they had to take account of the constraints of both functions, including, for example, \u2018dealing with IT and Marketing legacies which remain in a business, and ensure a balance between forward looking activity and resolving legacies of the past.\u2019\nIt is going to be a journey, but as one CIO at the event said, \u2018I\u2019ve put in countless financial systems in my career. Now I have the chance to work with marketing \u2013 which brings innovation and fun stuff\u2026.\u2019\nPlease follow the link here to explore the key takeaways from the evolving CIO-CMO relationship and to find out how collaboration can truly revolutionise the customer experience.