Mistrust Between the CIO and CMO

October 3, 2013 by Nicolas A. Zeitler 0

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Being able to understand customers’ wishes word-for-word using IT to read their lips ought to be a dream scenario for marketing managers. Market researchers Gartner expect CMOs to be spending more on IT and specialist analysis technology by 2017 than CIOs. Reason enough, then, for marketing to be interacting more with the IT department. In their study, however, Brian Whipple and Baiju Shah from Accenture found that collaboration between CIOs and CMOs still leaves much to be desired. Entitled “The CMO–CIO disconnect”, the paper found that only one in ten of the 405 marketing managers and 252 IT managers surveyed worldwide is satisfied with the manner of collaboration between the two departments.

Six out of ten CIOs believe their company is well positioned for business in the digital world. When it comes to the marketing managers, however, less than half share this opinion. Three-quarters of IT managers feel that it is important to foster a close relationship with the CMO, whereas only slightly more than half of CMOs questioned believe close collaboration with the CIO to be important. This does not mean, however, that the remaining CMOs believe IT to be less important: rather, the authors of the Accenture report suspect that marketing managers are increasingly procuring IT services from external providers rather than sourcing the services from their own in-house IT department.

CIOs demand standards. CMOs want greater freedom

Such a situation leads to further disagreement: marketing departments want more flexibility from their colleagues in IT. On the other hand, IT demands planning and reliability, and insists on compliance with standards. Almost half of IT managers surveyed indicated that marketing colleagues tend to use technology without worrying about standards. Moreover, 45% of marketing managers prefer their employees to be able to process data without having to call on the IT department.

Next page: Marketing wants a more detailed analysis of social networks

Of those CIOs questioned, 45% indicated that IT requests from marketing were their highest priority. Unfortunately, only 36% of CMOs surveyed believe this to be the case – which Accenture sees as a crisis of confidence between marketing and IT managers. When it comes to overarching targets, however, the two departments find themselves in agreement: in each case, over half of those surveyed believe one of their most important tasks is to find out more about customers, and to respond more efficiently to market trends.

Drilling down into more specific questions, however, reveals differences: 51% of CMOs see increasing the performance of the marketing unit as one of their five most important objectives. Only 43% of CIOs on the other hand share this opinion. In another example, 55% of CIOs want to be able to link results from analyses of areas such as Web site usage with completed transactions and business results. Only 41% of CMOs see this as a key area. 37% of CIOs want more detailed analyses of comments and opinions on social networks, compared to only 29% of CMOs.

Differences in priorities can affect success

These and other examples in the Accenture study show that IT bosses and marketing managers have different priorities in many areas, and that this has the potential to damage collaboration and could ultimately jeopardize the success of the company. Statements and opinions published on social networks could help a company learn more about potential buyers and customers’ needs, and to respond to these groups more quickly. However, if the CIO understands this potential, but the CMO does not share his or her opinion, it could lead to a situation where marketing departments completely ignore the technical possibilities.

Next page: 5 tips for building trust between CIO and CMO

The authors of the report, Brian Whipple and Baiju Shah, tend to over-emphasize the findings of their surveys, even when the responses of the two managerial groups differ only by a few percentage points. Nevertheless, the results clearly show that IT and marketing could indeed cooperate more closely, which is why the five tips for better communication offered by Whipple and Shah should not be overlooked:

5 tips for building trust between the CIO and CMO

  1. The CMO is the Chief Experience Officer (CXO): The head of marketing is responsible for determining how the customer perceives the company and all of its products and services. He or she must set benchmarks that will allow the company to better align itself with its customers.
  2. IT is a strategic partner of marketing: The authors use this idea as a plea to marketing managers. Accordingly, when CMOs invest in new campaigns, they must not view their colleagues in IT simply as a body that helps implement the measures. Instead, Accenture recommends that both departments work together to address the question of how technology can be used for marketing purposes.
  3. IT and marketing should agree on shared standards: How are IT tools selected for a new marketing campaign? How far can the company go when analyzing user data? CIOs and CMOs need to reach a common understanding on all of these issues.
  4. IT competence in marketing, marketing competence in IT: CMOs should ensure their employees remain up-to-date with the latest developments in digital technology. At the same time, IT needs to foster a culture of responding to market requirements more quickly.
  5. Trust builds trust: This last recommendation sounds both simple and complicated at the same time. The Accenture authors believe that CIOs and CMOs need to open up the doors toward greater communication and coordination. Although this will require a certain amount of trust, it will ultimately increase trust between the two organizations.

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