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5 Lessons CIOs And CMOs Should Share

IT and marketing chiefs can do their jobs more effectively by teaching each other on some key matters.

 IT Careers: 8 Steps Toward New Business Roles
IT Careers: 8 Steps Toward New Business Roles
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At first glance, the roles of CIO and CMO could not be more different. But now more than ever, organizations' chief information officers and chief marketing officers must rely on each other to do their jobs more effectively. Here are five lessons CIOs can teach CMOs -- and five more that marketing execs can teach their C-level tech peers.

What CIOs Can Teach CMOs

1. No technology is an island. We're in the age of BYOX -- bring your own devices, bring your own clouds, bring your own WLANs, bring your own apps … you get the idea. While this freedom from the rigors of the IT department often means that technology gets deployed more quickly, what many people outside the IT department forget is that technology is (or should be) an ecosystem. CIOs can teach CMOs to consider how any new piece of technology could hook into, complement, and exchange data with other systems in place in the company.

2. What's measured matters, and what matters is measured. CIOs play a key role in helping CMOs figure out what technology metrics influence business processes, and in teaching CMOs to generate meaningful, actionable reports from the systems they are using.

[ Could your organization benefit from a more "employee-centric" approach? Read Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment? ]

3. Effective policy is critical. One critical lesson that CIOs can teach CMOs, and the rest of the business, is that development of effective acceptable use and security policy is key to the well-being of the company on many levels. For example, it's important to build in guidelines around things like how often passwords are changed because a compromised system can wreak all kinds of havoc. But it's also important to build in guidelines around what should and shouldn't be said on social networks because a company's compromised reputation may be irreparable.

4. Long-term payoff may trump short-term gains. One of the most alluring things about today's cloud- and mobile-based apps is their immediacy. They satisfy our desire for instant gratification, but in some cases, that's all they provide. (Think about all the apps on your phone that seemed really useful when you downloaded them, but serve such a narrow purpose that they're now just taking up space on your home screen.) CIOs can teach CMOs when it makes sense to implement an application or service that may take longer or cost more to deploy but that will pay off bigger over time.

5. Flexibility must be balanced with security. No CIO wants to be seen as the guy or gal tying the business' hands, but at the same time, no one really wants a CIO for whom "anything goes" when it comes to technology. CIOs must convey their willingness to enable strategic new technologies as quickly as possible, but they must articulate the reasons why time to deployment and expansion may at times be tempered by security concerns.

What CMOs Can Teach CIOs

1. Sometimes you just have to see what sticks. CIOs and the IT department are accustomed to specific processes and procedures when it comes to the evaluation and procurement of technology. In today's organizations, however, many of those processes and procedures have been thrown out the window as managers and end users alike try out cheap (or free) technology from the cloud. Some of these new applications work well for the task at hand and some don't. When they don't, it's time to try something new. CMOs can teach CIOs that within reason, this new, almost-real-time form of evaluation and procurement can expand business and productivity opportunities.

2. What's measured matters, but what's measured is a moving target. The metrics that matter for IT tend to be concrete: The server is up or it's down. It's taking X seconds for a page on the website to load. For CMOs, on the other hand, what matters one day may not matter the next. Or conversely, new circumstances have made a metric that didn't amount to a hill of beans yesterday suddenly rise to the analytics top. CMOs can teach CIOs to always be looking for new ways to measure performance.

3. Content is king. CMOs know that good content is valuable currency on social networks. They can teach CIOs how to create killer content, polishing their brands and establishing themselves as subject matter experts in a way that benefits the business and the individual.

4. The customer is always right. A good CMO has his or her ear to the ground, listening for what customers like and don't like and what they want and don't want. CMOs can teach CIOs the value in using technology such as social media monitoring tools to take the virtual temperature of customers and apply data gleaned from those tools in ways that will improve the customer experience and, by extension, the health of the company.

5. Security must be balanced with flexibility. No CMO wants to be seen as playing fast and loose with security, but at the same time, no one really wants a CMO to be more focused on security than on increasing brand recognition and improving relations with customers. CMOs should convey that security must be a key consideration with any technology in use at the company, but they should also articulate why a certain level of openness must be maintained in order to achieve marketing and communications goals.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

Learn more about how IT and other departments in your organization can benefit from each other by attending the Interop conference track on the Business of IT in New York from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.

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