Tips for Bridging the CMO-CIO Gap

August 28, 2014

It is indisputable: Data has become more central to the marketing department. With their growing marketing stacks -- which include marketing automation software, analytics tools, and CRM systems -- marketers have a view of their prospects’ “digital body language” as they visit websites, open email, search with keywords, and interact on social media.

As technology has grown more important to the marketing department, the relationship between the CMO and the CIO has also become critical. As this relationship raises its profile, the big consulting firms have weighed in with their opinions of how to make this crucial relationship function smoothly. For instance, McKinsey & Company recently published an article, “Getting the CMO and CIO to Work as Partners,” examining the ins and outs of the relationship.

Here is how the article’s authors, Matt Ariker, Martin Harrysson, and Jesko Perrey, described the landscape: “Both the CMO and CIO are on the hook for turning all that data into growth together. It may be a marriage of convenience, but it’s one that CMOs and CIOs need to make work, especially as worldwide volume of data is growing at least 40 percent a year, with ever-increasing variety and velocity.”

The McKinsey article offered several tips for solidifying the CMO-CIO relationship:

Set well-defined goals, together. As the authors wrote, “When you’re looking for a needle in a haystack of big data, you really need to know what a needle looks like.” With a specific and shared target in mind, the marketing and IT teams will be forced to work together. Marketing and IT must share accountability to get the job done right.

The CMO must become metrics driven and transparent. In addition to having clear goals, the CMO must chose the right metrics for gauging the outcomes of the use of technology and the data it produces. These metrics must be shared and completely transparent so the team – both the marketing and IT departments – can understand their progress toward meeting the ultimate goals.

The CIO must shift mindset. For too long, IT has been a cost center. The CIO must now approach the business as a unit that will accelerate revenue, McKinsey says.

Team building is essential. One way to get marketers and IT folks to work together is to hire people who have a keen understanding of both. The authors of this article suggest hiring “marketing and IT translators.”

Think big but start small. Data -- big, small, and otherwise -- can be a complex undertaking. McKinsey counsels starting small with a pilot program or two. The advice is to fail fast and identify sticking points quickly to make the current project better, and future projects even better than that.

McKinsey is not the only consulting firm offering advice in CMO-CIO marriage counseling. Andrea Fishman, a principal at PwC wrote a recent column for about the relationship, in which she revealed that her firm’s research found that 70 percent of top-performing companies had strong relationships between marketing and IT. On the other hand, just 51 percent of all companies surveyed said they had strong relationships between the two groups.

Additionally, in a recent column, Robert Davis, EVP-strategy at PJA Advertising + Marketing, wrote about a similar CMO-CIO report from Accenture, which found several gaps between marketing and IT. Specifically, Davis noted that the report found that 11 percent of CMOs at U.S. companies with declining revenue said that CIOs should be involved in exploring mobile, while 60 percent of CIOs said they should be involved.

This post was originally published on the Bizo blog. In July 2014, LinkedIn + Bizo joined forces to build the most robust B2B marketing platform available to marketers. To learn more, check out David Thacker, VP of Product at LinkedIn’s announcement blog post.

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