by Maryfran Johnson

Can We Get A CIO-CMO Do-Over?

Jun 08, 20123 mins

CIO magazine's editor in chief discusses our June 15 cover story on the CIO-CMO relationship and why, despite the potential for animosity, there is a big benefit in learning to get along.

If you had to pick the department at your company that’s most likely to be engaging in a little rogue IT, which one would you suspect? I’ll bet most of you just muttered “marketing,” possibly with an expletive modifier.

Armed with their corporate credit cards and pressured by whacked-out deadlines, those creative right-brainers are a favorite target for the endless array of cloud vendors eager to replace your IT department.

“Marketing sees IT as the land of slow and no. And IT sees marketing as unguided missiles,” says Frank Cutitta, CEO of the Center for Global Branding and a research associate for the CSC Leading Edge Forum, an IT think tank. He recently spent six months interviewing pairs of CIOs and CMOs about their working relationships and found that only 40 percent were moving in a positive direction. The majority were either stuck in a holding pattern or actively deteriorating. That’s a bit discouraging in an era of business change that revolves around mobile, social, cloud and consumerized IT.

But as you’ll read in our cover story (“6 Ways CIOs Can Make Peace with CMOs”), there are a number of relatively painless, practical steps CIOs can take to build a bridge over that historic divide between IT and marketing. Some of the tactics will be old familiar friends, like sharpening your mutual customer focus or creating cross-functional teams. But others are more counterintuitive, like deliberately ceding IT control to the marketing team or taking part in interviews of the candidates seeking jobs in each other’s departments.

One CIO practitioner of this more enlightened attitude toward CMOs is John Murray at Genworth Financial Wealth Management. He and his CMO, Myra Rothfeld, have worked out an ideal balance of communication, risk management and speed-to-market collaboration. “I have empathy for what drives her business,” Murray says. “And she has empathy that if we get hacked, no one is going to call the CMO.”

What I especially liked in our story was the checklist of items we ran online that reveals how well your own CIO-CMO relationship is working (see “How to Tell if You’ve Got a Good Relationship With Marketing”). Are you funding projects jointly? Are you managing vendors together to cut better deals? Are you producing more tech-intensive products together? Are you marketing well across multiple channels?

Whatever the state of your current CIO-CMO partnership, this could be the perfect time to reboot that relationship.