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CIO-CMO Relationship: Plagued By Digital Pretenders

Digital strategies that focus only on customer engagement are shallow. But to go deeper, CIOs and CMOs must partner up.

to balance market-facing innovation and customer engagement with longer-term efficiency. He's been trying to create a collaborative working relationship with the marketing leaders, but they are logjammed.

The marketing department has a technology innovation lead, and many of the leaders have a digital marketing background. I suggested that these individuals they try to build a list of the major things they do that overlap marketing and tech -- market data analytics, vendor selection, app innovation and development, etc. -- and then figure out who should do what and why. I recommended that they consider using an upcoming digital campaign as a test case.

As part of this process, companies should review each of the major planned and ongoing initiatives in both marketing and IT's portfolios to find opportunities to get each other's perspectives. Doing so may also reveal some gaps or overlaps that need to be addressed. CIOs and CMOs need to get explicit agreement on who owns the components of digital strategies, the role each leader will take on, and when and how they're expected to work together. 

Defining the roles and responsibilities of marketing and IT is not about either group trying to gain control. It's about involving experts in design, architecture, integration, and information to make the digital products better and more manageable for the short and long term. We need to make sure that the right decision-makers are involved in idea development, designing, planning, estimating, and sourcing.

In our survey we also looked at the skills and knowledge of each group -- IT's understanding of marketing and marketing’s understanding of IT. We found that things are fairly balanced. Nearly two thirds of CMOs (63%) say that their IT department has a very good or excellent understanding of marketing. On the flip side, 60% of CIOs rate marketing as having very good or excellent IT skills. 

The bottom line is that CIOs and CMOs understand each other's function and forge a partnership that will advance the company’s digital agenda. Now they need to sit down and have a meaningful conversation about how they can help each other outshine the real competition: other companies in their industries. When CIOs and CMOs team up, the results can be digital dynamite. 

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