by Matt Villano

Vendor Management: The CIO/CMO Relationship

Sep 15, 20062 mins

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, CIOs and CMOs must be in different solar systems. At least that’s the conclusion of “C-Tech,” a recent study from New York–based research firm Doremus.

The study, querying 400 C-level execs at Fortune 500 firms, revealed CIOs have overwhelming distrust for independent technology vendors, and by extension, their chief marketing officers. In particular, the study noted that CIOs and vendor CMOs use the same words to describe what they mean by service, but their meanings differ.

“One says service and the other thinks price,” says Lou Rubin, managing director of DPrime Consulting, a division of Doremus. Rubin adds that Doremus hired an ethnographer to delve into the discrepancies between meanings, and this specialist determined that “none of these technology leaders has defined a set of terms.”

Another example: To CMOs, trust means fulfilling service agreements, but to CIOs, it means anticipation of problems. Total cost of ownership and return on investment also cause trouble, Rubin notes.

Semantics wasn’t the only sore subject unearthed in the report: CIOs also criticized product vendors for problem resolution. They too often replace technology instead of finding solutions, CIOs said.

According to Rubin, CIOs can get better service by requesting explicit, incentive-laden service level agreements (SLAs). Rubin suggests CIOs only sign SLAs tied to vendor follow-through and success.

“At this point the Holy Grail is a service agreement that rewards both parties for achieving certain performance metrics,” he says. “This kind of contract may be the only way to restore trust.”