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Why CIOs and CMOs must work together

Many people in the digital field imagine that the CIO and the CMO are destined to fight like cat and dog. But that cliché is rapidly becoming outdated as marketers and technologists set aside traditional differences for the sake of digital excellence.

Admittedly, there remains some friction at the lower levels of the IT and marketing organizations in some companies. However, this is fast being countered by a growing recognition that the two teams are embarking on the same journey of digital transformation. Also, much of marketing relies upon the CMO understanding deep levels of how the business systems operate. And as the consumer gets more empowered by the Internet, the line between marketing and operational systems are blurring – customers now expect systems to talk to one another.

As one study by the CEB CIO Council in the UK says: “CMOs want to work with their CIO counterparts to exploit digital assets and channels and are reorganizing in diverse ways to streamline the IT-marketing interface.”

Digital business demands an understanding of digital customers as well as the operational experience and expertise needed to build, run and manage digital platforms. Neither the CMO nor the CIO can navigate this vast, complex and often treacherous terrain alone.

From the CMO’s perspective, the massive array of digital technologies can be intimidating. Creating a technological infrastructure, buying the right solutions, integrating them with other enterprise platforms, and managing the technology stack are all outside his or her realm of expertise. Yet, the ultimate job of the CMO is still to build the brand in a way that optimizes the brand: consumer interface. For that to happen, systems are totally interdependent, no matter their purpose.

Of course, CMOs must understand the applications, technologies and vendors at a strategic level, but the finer technical details are best entrusted to the information technology team led by the CIO.

CIOs, by contrast, need the CMO’s experience in customer engagement to drive the organization towards digital transformation.

It is the CMO who can guide the conversation about which business questions need to be asked of the customer data the organization collects, as well as how the brand and customer experience needs to evolve to keep up with changing consumer expectations.

Customers expect to be recognized and presented with highly relevant offers and experiences across multiple different channels, but this requires the integration and coordinated use of a large number of disparate tools.

Getting this right demands combining the CIO’s technical savvy and the CMO’s ability to ask the right questions about how technology will drive authentic, consistent customer experiences.

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