4 ways to connect the CMO and CIO

Victoria Clarke outlines four ways the CMO and CIO can establish common ground in order to best serve their organisation's needs

The digital revolution is challenging business across all areas. Data security, the technology ecosystem, ROI and innovation are increasingly featuring at the top of the agenda for both CIOs and CMOs, and subsequently helping the two leaders to speak the same language.

Here are four ways to connect the CMO to the CIO:

1. Data security

The data landscape has been transformed by the digital explosion. Historically, businesses have only leveraged 20 per cent of their structured data, which has resulted in missed opportunities with traditional business intelligence. New technology is now enabling marketers to more effectively gather, contextualise and analyse this data into meaningful insight. But with all this customer intelligence comes the need for tighter security and compliance – particularly in light of new European regulations.

“Data is the new oil for marketers and an essential component in a successful marketing strategy,” says Neil Bramley, B2B PC business unit director, Toshiba Europe. “But there are high risks should any of this data be held in less than secure locations – and that fallout ultimately falls on the entire c-suite. So it’s in a CMO’s interest to support the CIO and vice versa.”

While marketing needs to be able to exploit customer data to drive more strategic campaign activity, ultimately IT needs to be the custodian of this data so that it remains safe and secure. How can businesses help promote this kind of joint responsibility? Dan Roche, head of marketing at KPMG, suggests: “Businesses need to give freedom to their marketers to procure their own technology – and ensure the IT team is there as enabler and ‘safe-guarder’ where necessary. Data security is a key consideration for all firms, so this is where a clear line of communication and shared plans between marketing and IT come into play.”

John Fleming, marketing director EMEA at Webtrends, offers further advice. He says: “While low-level tactical applications may seem to pose less risk, it’s prudent for organisations to compile an approved ‘safe’ list of suppliers for functions such as MA or anything that plugs straight into company data – similar to a corporate App Store where due diligence on the technology guarantees a degree of compatibility and compliance.”

2. The technology ecosystem

Many marketing departments are guilty of purchasing lots of different applications, but failing to properly understand how they all sync together. Indeed, 81 per cent of respondents in the Squiz survey revealed their marketing tech platforms were only 0-50 per cent integrated. The result? Disparate systems, which may be fit for purpose individually, but combined can create a data car crash.

Mark Galvin, product marketing manager at Zeta Interactive, warns: “Silos like these are largely responsible for inconsistencies across different channels that create friction across the customer journey and ultimately diminish customer experience.”

Galvin agrees marketers need to forge closer working relationships with IT by building strategies around buyer experience that incorporate all customer touchpoints. In particular, CMOs must actively promote two-way communication between their team and IT – the latter being best placed to advise how different applications and platforms should integrate seamlessly into the wider technology ecosystem.

3. ROI

The CMO in particular is under immense pressure from the rest of the c-suite to prove ROI from all marketing activity, including technology investment. The CIO and their team have the technical expertise to not only ensure smoother implementation but also help drive increased operational efficiency, which both equate to a better control on costs. IT can also help boost ROI by making sure any tech investment will adapt to the future and not end up redundant due to incompatibility, duplication and upgrades.

4. Tech innovation

The desire to constantly innovate has always been a big focus for marketers – particularly when it comes to choosing technology. But as CIOs and IT departments become more customer-focused, innovation is increasingly in the IT spotlight too. In particular, their expertise in how technology actually works can help promote user-driven innovation, enabling marketers to tailor systems and solutions to better meet their own needs.

By collaborating together to adapt technology in response to the needs of the end user, IT and marketing are helping businesses become more agile – a quality fast becoming a major brand differentiator.

As Matt Preschern, executive VP and CMO at HCL Technologies, explains: “A successful enterprise response to the digital challenge is not dependent on making the perfect technology choice at the right time. This could have worked in the last century when the rate of change was not nearly as high as it is today. In the 21st century, a successful response to the digital challenge requires efforts towards increasing agility, not stability.

“Agile enterprises can reconfigure themselves to achieve predictable results in an unpredictable environment and at the heart of this ability is a culture of innovation, openness to new ideas and collaboration across ecosystems within and outside the enterprise.”