by Dan Muse

What Do CMOs and CIOs Really Think of Each Other?

May 29, 20134 mins
BudgetingCIOIT Leadership

It's widely predicted that more technology-related budget will move to the marketing department, which leads to a natural question: Will CMOs and CIOs become business partners or merely grit their teeth and co-exist?

Gartner predicts that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. IDC reports that by 2016, line of business executives will control 40 percent of IT spending.

As technology purchases shift to the business side of the house, where does that leave the IT department? While the trend seems undeniable, what’s less clear is how department heads will react. Will CMOs and CIOs become partners and trusted advisors or will they merely politely tolerate one another?

CIO/CMO Partnership Survey

To gain greater insight into the relationships, attitudes and predictions of these C-level executives, CIO Research (a sister organization to surveyed 237 top IT executives and 140 top marketing executives earlier this year.

The good news is that the majority of both CIOs and CMOs rate their relationship favorable, describing it as “good” or “excellent.”

What may be not-as-good news is that few CMOs or CIOs (13 and 16 percent, respectively) consider their counterpart to be their most valuable senior executive partner within the business.

While netiher CMOs and CIOs see their roles as adversarial in any size organization, working for larger enterprises does make the relationship more challenging compared to marketnig and tech leaders at small- and midsize businesses.

CIO/CMO Partnership Survey

Forty-four percent of CIOs in companies with fewer than 1,000 employees described their relationships with the CMO as excellent compared to 28 percent in enterprises with more than 1,000 employees.

The difference among CMOs is even more dramatic (51 percent in companies with fewer than 1,000 employees vs. 23 percent in companies with more than 1,000 employees).

A large percentage of IT executives appears optimistic about the coming year with 41 percent of CIOs expecting their relationship with their CMO to be better a year from now. CMOs are a little less optimistic, only 27 percent anticipate the relationship with their CIO will improve in the same timeframe.

CIOs are somewhat split in terms of how they currently view CMOs. While more than a third of CIOs describe their CMO as a consultant and almost a quarter views them as strategic advisors, 26 percent of IT executives aren’t as positive, describing the marketing counterparts as rogue players.

Conversely, and perhaps logically, only 6 percent of CMOs see CIOs as rogue players. However, 14 percent do describe CIOs as “roadbocks.”

CIO/CMO Partnership Survey

CIOs Take the Cloud, CMOs Claim CRM–Then It Gets Complicated

CIOs and CMOs do differ in some areas regarding who is driving technology investments.

When it comes to cloud computing, both sides are inclined to agree that IT is primarily responsible for driving investments. However, CIOs are more likely than the CMOs to point to the IT function as leading in this area (71 percent, versus 51 percent). This is especially true at large companies (80 percent compared to 67 percent at smaller businesses).

Both IT and marketing also agree that IT has primary responsibility for driving consumerization of IT related investments although in smaller numbers among the CMOs (44 percent, versus 54 percent for CIOs).

When it comes to CRM and demand-generation tools, both sides point to marketing and sales as the functions primarily responsible for driving investments, but the CMO group is more likely than the CIOs to identify marketing as the primary driver (45 percent, vs. 26 percent). The sales function is more frequently identified by the CIOs with 29 percent pointing to this group, compared to 21 percent for the CMOs.

The biggest disconnect in budget responsibility involves investments in mobile and big data. Nearly half of the CIOs surveyed (46 percent), identify IT as the primary driver of mobile investments; however, CMOs most often point to marketing as leading the charge (29 percent) followed by IT (26 percent). One quarter of CIOs in companies with 1,000 or more employees point to marketing as the lead for mobile investments, significantly higher than their peers in small and midsize companies (11 percent).

When the Going Gets Tough

Marketing’s technology-related budgets are growing more quickly than IT budgets (from 15 percent to 20 percent for marketing vs. 12 percent to 15 percent for IT budgets). However, both departments feel vulnerable to cuts.

Should budgets tighten, neither IT nor marketing sees the other department as the first place to suffer cuts. Slightly more than half of CMOs (51 percent) point to their own function as an area likely to experience reductions first, followed by administration (40 percent) and operations (19 percent). Only 14 percent of marketing executives cite IT as the first place to cut.

Nearly half of the CIOs (49 percent) identify administration as an area that would be cut first in the event of budget reductions) followed by their own departments (37 percent).

For more information, download the full

CIO/CMO Partnership Survey

Dan Muse is executive editor of Follow him on Twitter @dmuse.

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