6 Rules To Help CIOs, CMOs Be Smart Partners

IT and marketing too often work at cross purposes. Here's how to end bad behavior and drive more revenue.

Doug Henschen, Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

January 9, 2012

3 Min Read

Rule 3. Develop shared goals tied to business metrics

Sounds good in theory, but here's where bad behavior often creeps in, says Pearson. Let's say marketing and IT agree, in principle, that a major marketing push in the Asia-Pacific region is a strategic priority. It's all too common for IT to put too few resources on an emerging market project; they're usually preoccupied with building out infrastructure for the global platform, so they don't take the time to detail the requirements of what's perceived to be small project. Marketing, meanwhile, is dazzled by the prospect of potential revenue growth but underestimates the difficulty of, say, dealing with 18 different languages in that region. The project inevitably misses deadlines and the blame game starts.

"Where I see IT and marketing working together effectively, there are usually processes or methodologies in place that promote collaboration," says Pearson, who lists performance-management initiatives (with agreed-upon metrics and scorecards tied to strategy and execution), hands-on CEO oversight and cooperative management cultures (promoting teamwork rather than silos) as agents that can promote better working relationships. "Process ensures that the light of day is shining on the problem, and there's an institutional mechanism in place for resolving conflicts," Pearson says.

[ Want more on CIO imperatives? Check out CIO Summary: Killer Insights From The IW 500 Conference. ]

Rule 4. Get CEO sign-off on program goals and deadlines

The CEO and COO are often aware of the big-picture goals of initiatives driven by IT and marketing, but they should also sign off on details such as the budget and key deadlines, Pearson says. Agreeing on a strategic goal is one thing, but it may take some time for IT and marketing to figure out exactly what it will take to get there. Ideally you should have review mechanisms in place so top executives sign off on the details and periodically check in on progress and mid-course deliverables.

Rule 5. Air out philosophies, biases and constraints before the project begins

Marketing Rules Are Dead

Marketing Rules Are Dead

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Do you stick with off-the-shelf software or are you comfortable with custom development? Will you run everything on-premises, or are cloud-based systems an option? IT must spell out such requirements and constraints up front so marketing won't be caught off guard after spending months vetting a product that's not to IT's liking. Similarly marketing needs to decide on must-have capabilities up front and not shift requirements midway through a project. What's more, rogue technology selections have to end; they're a frequent source of data silos and dead-end investment.

Rule 6. Share project management dashboards

IT and marketing often speak two different languages and have very different measures of success and failure. Before a project begins, create a common dashboard that will display the metrics both teams will use to measure progress against milestones and deliverables.

Now that digital channels including the Web, e-mail, mobile and social engagement are such a prominent -- often leading -- part of the campaign mix, IT-marketing cooperation should be closer than ever. It's an imperative InformationWeek has been writing a lot about. In fact, one of the key takeaways from the InformationWeek 500 Conference last fall was that CIOs should think of CMOs as their new best friend.

It may not happen overnight--and you might not end up hanging out together after work--but by applying Pearson's six rules, you've got a good shot at playing well together with the marketing team.

About the Author(s)

Doug Henschen

Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of Transform Magazine, and Executive Editor at DM News. He has covered IT and data-driven marketing for more than 15 years.

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