A frequent topic in CIO circles is that of “alignment,”
which suggests that the key to being a successful CIO is aligning IT’s
objectives and measures with those of other business units. Historically, this
meant hitching IT’s wagon to one or both of the two big players in the C-suite:
the CFO and COO. In many organizations, the CIO role itself was an offshoot of
finance or operations, and in many cases, still reports to the chief of one of
those organizations. Similarly, in decades past most large IT expenditures served
finance and operations, installing massive accounting and supply chain
packages. However, there’s an opportunity for savvy CIOs to work with an
emerging C-suite player: the Chief Marketing Officer.

A tale of two
C-suite’ers

Interestingly, CMOs share many of the concerns and
challenges of CIOs. Like the CIO, the CMO title is relatively recent, and many
CMOs worry about “alignment” and their roles being marginalized and
underappreciated. CMOs have also been saddled with a raft of new technologies
that are changing the very nature of their business, from big data to social
media. These emerging marketing technologies present an excellent opportunity
for a mutually beneficial alliance between CIOs and CMOs.

The future of
marketing

Marketing as a whole is undergoing a dramatic shift that
started with the advent of electronic communications allowing tailored
marketing campaigns at a massive scale. Concurrent with this change were new
technologies that allowed detailed metrics to be captured, taking marketing
closer to the nirvana of correlating marketing spend with sales results. No
longer were marketers creating huge mass-marketing campaigns and tracking their
performance with mercurial and imprecise statistics, but now were able to marry
marketing spending directly to lead generation.

More recently, social media and improved database
technologies have allowed marketers to run highly automated and wide-reaching
marketing campaigns that are individually targeted. Instead of a television ad running
during a sporting event that might reach 10 million viewers, 10,000 of which
might be interested in my product, I can now target those same 10,000
individuals directly, some via a social media website, some via a phone call,
and each with a specifically targeted message. Obviously, this highly tailored
and highly automated marketing department is dependent on technology.

The battle for the
CMO

For CMOs, dealing with these increasingly capable and
increasingly complex technologies is a challenge, and CMOs are turning either
towards the CIO or their agencies as a source of trusted advice. For the CIO,
watching marketing turn outside the organization for guidance and expertise
further marginalizes the importance of IT, and often results in IT being
consulted to “connect the dots” after key strategic decisions have already been
made.

Rather than waiting for the CMO to knock on your door, or
worse, getting summoned to a vendor meeting where your entire IT architecture
has been turned on its head, start meeting with your peers in marketing to
understand their concerns and see where IT can help. You had better believe
that the CMO is already meeting with trusted agencies about these issues, and
if you wait for the CMO to start the conversation, you may be too late.

You may be surprised how quickly and easily IT can help
marketing. As a group that is increasingly dependent on data, you may be able
to leverage existing databases and tools to make marketing’s job easier. You
can also begin to understand some of the concerns of the CMO, and ideally
partner with your colleague as he or she considers initiatives that may require
drastic changes to your IT environment.

While some in IT may be initially uncomfortable with
marketing, a discipline that often deals with feelings, impressions, and
sentiment rather than hard data, the alliance between the creative and the
technical is growing increasingly valuable. The sooner you can get your people
exposed to marketing’s concerns and challenges, and offer technical solutions,
the more likely both the CMO and CIO roles succeed in
your organization.