All that talk about CIO-CMO collaboration? Good luck with that.


More IT spending is going around rather than through IT departments — mostly because it is now so easy to buy and use SaaS applications. The thinking is that, if you don’t need to buy and provision servers and applications, who needs IT? And that’s led to calls for CIOs to make nice with CMOs and other line-of-business execs.

The numbers vary about how big that spending shift is, but it’s a real trend. [company]Gartner[/company], for example, said that 38 percent of global IT spending originates outside IT but that number will rise to 50 percent by 2017. (Remind me to go back and check that in a few years.)

Why can’t we all just get along?

It behooves IT managers, including the CIO, to work with CMOs, human resources execs, etc., and it’s also a good idea for those less tech-savvy execs to make use of the CIO’s expertise in buying decisions. But that isn’t happening much, according to results from a recent Forrester Research survey of 308 marketing and tech managers.

Most of the surveyed managers said the right things. Both groups seem to “get” that they need to work together. More than half of each group (marketing and IT) said it is confident in the other camp’s ability to assess priorities (56 percent of marketing people and 63 percent of tech people said this). And each group’s level of trust in the other group is up compared to last year.

Now, here comes the “but.” From Forrester:
[blockquote person=”” attribution=””] While it’s a growing priority for CMOs to work with their CIO counterparts when choosing and implementing marketing technologies, only slightly more than half of surveyed execs say that both sides of the house select and deploy technologies jointly. And perhaps worse, just 54% believe the leadership is in place to support marketing technology strategies.[/blockquote]

Cede budget? “Over my dead body.”

This reinforces what I’ve seen and heard anecdotally. (One CIO memorably told an audience at MIT last year that the CMO would gain control of more IT spending “over my dead body.”)

It’s easy to sing kumbaya; it’s far harder to change actual behaviors that have been in place for years. CIOS have traditionally disdained marketing people as tech newbies and CMOs often see IT staff as intransigent and way too slow to respond to new business requirements. The more things change…


Peter Fretty

So many potential benefits when these two groups can work as a seamless team. IT can provide far better tools and marketing gets aligned insights to take meaningful action. It’s not only possible, I have seen this collaboration in a number of instances. Of course it takes far more than putting some technology in place and telling them to work together. It takes a commitment from the board to ensure that LOB barriers are gone. It needs to be a true culture development. It’s really the entire purpose behind UC, but more often than not organizations fail to make the commitment to build the strategy, explain the benefits and truly establish an environment where everyone feels ownership.

Peter Fretty, IDG blogger working on behalf of AT&T

Jason D

As a counterpoint, if the CMO (and/or the team reporting into the CMO) understands the functionality they require from some piece of technology, is able to buy it, deploy it and use it with no assistance or from the CIO org, and has the budget to do so, then why do we continue to suggest the CMO and CIO should be collaborating on tech purchases?

I do not know if this originates from CIOs who simply do not want to cede control of anything related to tech, or if there are legitimate organizational issues arising from Marketing leaders selecting and deploying technology without buy-in from the CIO, but it seems to me we wrestle with this question without really addressing why we need this collaboration in the first place.

Could it be that the ease of deploying software in a SaaS world just changes the role of the CIO, and the CMO (and other leaders) are now singly informed to make their own choices in a ways they never were in the past?

Common vision amongst the C-Suite officers is good. Forcing collaboration to preserve old-school fiefdoms probably is not so good. I ask your feedback to better understand which of these is at play.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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