Report reveals extent of CIO-CMO disconnect
With the rise of digital technology, marketing professionals have emerged as the trailblazers of a new way of doing business, one that merges the traditional values of strategic foresight and creative thinking with the technical acumen required to decipher consumer tastes and preferences, translate that information into actionable intelligence, and use it to engage the public in real time.
Brands seeking to make an impact in this new digital world require a complex set of tools and the IT talent to power them. To date, much of the heavy lifting has been done behind the scenes, which explains why digital marketing guru Romi Mahajan – the president of KKM Group – has called the IT professional the “unsung hero of digital marketing.”
But more and more each day, the quants are taking their rightful place on the front lines, turning traditional marketing models on their head and challenging companies to rethink long-held beliefs and practices. This transition is placing new demands on both marketing professionals and their counterparts in IT and forcing both camps to embrace (often reluctantly) their evolving roles.
In a recent interview with CMO magazine, Jim Davis – the head of marketing for SAS – went so far as to say the role of the modern CMO should mimic that of chief technologist.
“The best situation would be if you look at your CIO and say they could be the CMO, and to look at your CMO and say they could be the CIO,” Davis said. “That’s what we should be striving for.”
Davis says this requires an effective merger of two traditionally separate corporate cultures into one multifaceted and forward-thinking unit.
Makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy, right? Not so fast.
According to a new report from Accenture, CIOs and CMOs aren’t exactly sitting around singing Kumbaya – at least not yet. Accenture surveyed 400 senior marketing and 250 information technology executives in 10 countries and found that the transition Davis speaks of is slow-going and littered with obstacles. According to the report, “The CMO-CIO Disconnect,” only one in 10 marketing and IT executives say collaboration is at the level it should be; and, while both parties share some of the blame, there is evidence that much of the problem resides with marketing executives, who remain reluctant to give IT an equal seat at the table.
Globally, 77% of CIOs agree they need to be aligned with CMOs, whereas only 56% of CMOs feel this way about CIOs, the report found. The root of the disconnect is a mutual lack of trust and a tendency among marketing executives to commoditize IT.
“CMOs expect much quicker turnaround and higher quality from IT, with a greater degree of flexibility in responding to market requirements,” the authors wrote. “CMOs view the CIO organization as an execution and delivery arm at a time when they should consider IT as a strategic partner and involve CIOs when planning new marketing investments.”
The analysts say to bridge the gap, CMOs must stop viewing IT as a commodity – or worse, a competitor for resources – and begin actively cultivating a collaborative arrangement with their tech colleagues. Meanwhile, IT needs to do more to include marketing executives in IT buying decisions; and both departments need to modify their skills and exploit the synergies between them.
With nearly half of all IT buying decisions now driven by marketing needs, the worlds of IT and marketing are more closely intertwined than at any other time. Brands hoping to get to the next level need to encourage their CMOs and CIOs to put their differences aside and realize they are simply two sides of a single coin.