by Adam Dennison

Calling a Truce in CIO-CMO Budget Battles

Aug 26, 20143 mins
CIOIT Leadership

Although tech spending power is expanding for CMOs, CIO magazine’s publisher, Adam Dennison, sees the major influence over IT budgets staying in the hands of CIOs.

Thanks to my job as publisher of this magazine, I have the pleasure of meeting dozens of our CIO readers each month at the various events we hold across the country, and I’m also in regular touch with the vendor community. This unusual combination gives me a 360-degree view of the hottest topics and trends in our industry.

One of those topics continues to be the evolving relationship between CIOs and chief marketing officers. So much has been written about CIO-CMO collaboration in the past two years — especially about who will control IT spending—that you might think the subject has been exhausted. Not by a long shot.

The bulk of what I’ve read on this topic repeats the tired conviction that significant portions of IT budgets will move into the hands of CMOs. I’ve seen more than a few major IT vendors ramp up sales resources and aim them at executives with business titles instead of IT ones. But the truth about technology budgets is more complicated.

While a greater portion of the CMO’s budget is earmarked for technology these days, the CIO’s budget remains largely flat, according to “The CIO-CMO Omnichannel,” a new survey of more than 400 IT and business executives conducted by CIO magazine, EPAM Systems and The CMO Club.

The good news is that both groups are steadily improving their working relationships and are mutually determined to move rapidly on digital business transformation. Yet some big disconnects remain over turf and agility. For example, 86 percent of the CIOs in our Omnichannel survey believe they own mobile apps projects, while 74 percent of CMOs believe they do. Another recent CIO-CMO study from Accenture confirms the greater collaboration but underscores ongoing frustrations with the urgency marketers feel versus the response times CIOs can deliver.

What I see is an industry influence pendulum swinging back toward CIOs. In recent weeks, I’ve spoken with two major software players—each known for targeting marketing executives first — who told me they now need to reach CIOs directly. They’ve found that getting a foothold in individual business units doesn’t mean major enterprise deals will follow. They need the CIO’s authority and expertise to land an enterprisewide deployment.

So regardless of who you may be sharing them with, the keys to the enterprise technology engine are still in the CIO’s hands.

Adam Dennison is publisher of Follow him on Twitter @adamidg. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.