Should the CMO and CIO Be Best Friends?

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The C-Suite is full of a lot of important leaders. CFOs keep the financial state in good order. CEOs make the big-picture decisions. COOs ensure that the day-to-day operations of a company are efficient and productive.

And then there’s the CMO and the CIO. The chief marketing officer and chief information officer, respectively, are roles that operate “in the trenches” of a company on a daily basis. The former ensures that a brand is well-positioned to connect with consumers and generate sales. The latter uses past data to help inform future decision-making.

These two roles aren’t just important. They absolutely need one another, as well. Here are a few of the biggest reasons that the relationship between the CMO and CIO is more important than ever right now.

Dreams and Data Are Synergistic

Marketers exercise a high degree of artistic freedom throughout their work. IT and analytics are typically more of a scientific affair. When brought together, though, these two aspects can complement each other and create synergistic results.

Ally CIO Sathish Muthukrishnan underlines this sentiment, pointing out that the combination of dreams and data is a cornerstone of his joint success with CMO Andrea Brimmer’s marketing team.

“I think marketers are the dreamers,” Muthukrishnan says. “They think outside the box. They think beyond the constraints of execution within your company, and if you have a great relationship with them, you get the freedom to dream along with them.”

This freedom to dream is a welcome creative exercise for most IT teams. Muthukrishnan also points out that it leads to some interesting and productive challenges when it comes to data and analysis, explaining that “now you also have the challenge of taking the dream and implementing it through technology. That combination can be extremely powerful.”

Interdepartmental Reciprocity Is Critical

The rapid-pace creation of information and the critical requirement of using that information to inform marketing activity requires a continual, open communication line between marketing and information departments.

“I think right now, more than ever before, and honestly in the history of marketing, the reciprocity between technology delivery and marketing is paramount,” Brimmer explains.

Brimmer goes on to state that the rise of things like AR, VR and the metaverse is increasingly informing the digital customer journey. She adds that “if you and the CIO aren’t of the same mind, you aren’t going to get anything done with any kind of speed. And moving at the speed of the consumer right now is the name of the game.”

Information Provides a Framework for Marketing

Often marketing is effective, but the degree of its impact is hard to measure. Even when analytics are available, if they aren’t centralized and analyzed properly, it can leave a lot of value on the table.

CIOs allow CMOs to harness the full power of their business’s data. It enables them to build a framework to objectively judge the effectiveness of their efforts.

“Most people in marketing don’t have a framework for how marketing drives growth,” says Norm de Greve, CMO of CVS Health.

“They’ll tell you marketing drives growth. They’ll tell you marketing works. But they don’t have a framework against which to evaluate tactics and understand how they want to deploy their efforts to drive growth — something that is fundamentally based on an understanding of consumer behavior.”

De Greve goes on to reiterate that this need to hone existing marketing efforts naturally brings him together with his CIO.

“It’s kind of an obvious question if you think about it,” he says. “I’ll use data as one example. CMOs need data of course to do their jobs effectively. Well, if I want to do anything with the data, such as targeting and measurement, I am going to the CIO. Not to make it sound overly simplistic but in many ways, that’s the whole point.”

CIOs Free CMOs to Do What They Do Best

Marketers often have to balance data and creativity. In many cases, the drudgery of figuring out the application of data and automation can soak up valuable time that marketers could redirect toward customer-facing endeavors.

Sunny Bedi, the CIO and CDO (chief data officer) of Snowflake, sees this marketing support as a critical responsibility for his team. “Think of the CIO/CMO relationship this way,” Bedi illustrates. “Imagine the CMO as being a homeowner and they have a plumbing issue. When they turn on the hot water, cold water comes out and vice-versa. When that happens, they work with a plumber, AKA the CIO.”

Bedi goes on to explain that, in the workplace, this analogy translates as CMOs working with CIOs to address various concerns, such as:

  • Putting the right applications in place to automate marketing workflows.
  • Overseeing those applications to ensure the quality, efficiency and reliability of the captured data.
  • Analyzing and making that data applicable and effective for use within future marketing activity.

“Me and my team’s job,” adds the CIO, “is to make sure the CMO has hot or cold water — AKA the right data for the right purpose at the right time.”

The marketing and information departments of business have slowly been growing closer together in recent years. Technology and the digitization of the customer journey have led to the inevitable alliance between these two sectors of business.

However, just because the relationship between an enterprise’s CMO and CIO is essential doesn’t mean it’s automatic. On the contrary, it’s important for leaders to recognize the critical nature of this connection and ensure that there is healthy communication and collaboration between marketing and data departments at every stage of business.

This article originally appeared on CMSWire.

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