How to ensure the CIO-CMO relationship keeps blossoming

Michael Golz II_v2

With Valentine’s Day just passed, it seems an opportune moment to focus on the blossoming of a new relationship within digital businesses. I am referring to the growing importance of the interaction between the CIO and the CMO, as two individuals that haven’t always necessarily had much time for each in the past. With huge interest I have read Uwe’s blog post on the CIO-CMO-bond and wondered: Why do they need a closer relationship?

Quite simply, we are now living in a world where things are instant, from a data acquisition, consumption and analytics perspective. Any CMO worth his or her salt has come to realize that technology and data hold the key to measuring the return on investment for everything that marketing does. And so the need for instant insight is tremendous, whether this is from data retrieved through social or mobile channels, or other digital interaction with consumers.

To get there, IT and marketing must come closer together. Part of the role of IT is to build the right platforms to enable the rest of the business to use these new channels. And this is one area where a closer relationship is so important, as in many cases IT should no longer be building the entire solution, but rather creating platforms that the CMO can build upon.

It is essential that IT is at the heart of marketing’s transformation, as it seeks to implement new technology solutions that will improve the understanding of customer preferences, where they can be reached and how, and these are the details which really add value to the business.

How do we make that happen? I’ve learnt three simple lessons that have helped me improve links with my CMO.

First, I think that the best relationship building happens when people believe that you are genuinely interested in understanding what it is that they are doing, and what they need. As CIO, it must be your goal to develop and strengthen empathy on both sides. If marketing has no appreciation for what it takes to put something in place and operate it, and continues to push for such things, while IT fights back saying it must have the full specification or cannot begin a project, failure will be inevitable.

Second, learn to speak a common language – too often relationships fall down because marketing and IT fail to understand one another. Understand the business language and translate IT concepts into terms the business can relate to.

Third, shorten project length and increase collaboration. Instead of embarking on a 24-month mega project, shorten the cycle and try to focus on delivering some functionality to Marketing within a short timeframe (it will be greatly appreciated and will also cut the risk of them bypassing you to procure something externally). You can then incrementally build on this to reach the final result, ensuring the CMO is consulted as frequently as possible.

Applied collectively, these steps are sure to help you find a greater appreciation for each other.

Want to learn more about this? You might be interested to take a sneak peek into the little Google Hangout I had with Jonathan Becher (CMO at SAP).

Read more about Michael Golz here

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