From Odd Couple to Power Couple: How CIOs and CMOs Can Work Better Together to Achieve Greater Digital Marketing Success


Claire WiggillBy Claire Wiggill, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, PMG

Less than 20 percent of marketers believe that marketing and IT work closely together to ensure top-notch product delivery.[1] That’s about to change.

Recent years have brought major growth in digital marketing and technologies – marketing budgets have also grown to keep pace. While marketers are eagerly exploring and experimenting with these new platforms, they have little experience implementing them for the enterprise. That’s where IT comes in.

IT’s technology expertise can help marketers successfully manage their digital initiatives and guide them on what technologies are best to deploy. Before IT and marketing join forces, genuine effort should be put toward establishing a collaborative working relationship.

Do that and chances are you’ll see stronger marketing initiatives and perhaps even a reversal of both units’ cost-center reputation. Here’s how to make it happen.

Acknowledge and adapt to changing tech budgets

Obviously, a united CMO and CIO won’t happen overnight. Collaboration takes time and intentional development. And that starts with both parties acknowledging the changing technology landscape.

According to Gartner, CMOs will receive larger budgets for marketing technology than CIOs will for standard enterprise technology in 2017.[2] Suddenly, CIOs may feel like they’re losing their calling card. And if you let it, this real shift in fiscal power has the potential to create strain between your marketing and IT departments.

When this happens, no one wins. A negative CMO/CIO relationship impacts the entire organization, resulting in operational inefficiencies and unnecessary costs.

Fortunately, the exact thing that could potentially drive this divide can be used to drive collaboration. Before IT can even worry about marketing taking over its turf, marketing must come forward and admit its need for help. For the first time, CMOs must make long-term technology decisions for the enterprise. Here’s where a wise CMO can recognize the value the CIO and her team bring to the table.

Use technology to unite, not divide

While energized by their growing technology budgets, CMOs are right to hesitate when faced with the fresh challenge of implementing newly acquired technologies. Perhaps more importantly, they’ll need the wherewithal to create an effective digital marketing infrastructure management system, a critical need with the growing demand for all things digital. While it’s new for the CMO, for the CIO, this is how she makes her living.

Here, at this intersection of need and ability, is where the CIO and CMO can truly begin developing a healthy working relationship. The two parties can join together to ensure a clear and realistic definition of requirements for working together, including a solid plan for communication and change management for implementing new marketing technologies.

It’s also important the two work to implement a single solution specifically for digital marketing infrastructure management, providing a portal for both marketing and IT. This helps the two better work with one another on everything from creating new websites and renewing existing domains to running analytics on a website and launching new mobile apps. So, what does jumpstarting this relationship look like from a nuts-and-bolts perspective?

It all starts with the CIO and CMO themselves. The two leaders need to set the stage for teamwork by championing inter-team meetings. This meeting of the minds can come in the form of weekly check-in meetings. These sessions should establish clear processes, celebrate joint successes and, ultimately, help drive a culture of cross-team collaboration.

Change the cost-center reputation with collaboration

This opportunity to drive team collaboration comes at a unique time for both the CIO and CMO. Now more than ever, CEOs and other business leaders are calling for performance measurement and management. For business units that have struggled with “cost center” reputations, à la marketing and IT, the call for metrics presents an opportunity to quantify their value.

This proves particularly true if the two business units are actively supporting one another. The technology and data expertise of IT can help marketing construct relevant measurements, ensuring marketing efforts are tracked in direct relation to key business goals.

This display of ROI and key performance indicators helps elevate both departments. Together, the two can showcase their value to executives in ways they haven’t been able to before. And a little ROI can go a long way in shifting those cost-center perceptions, delivering a true win-win situation for both marketing and IT.


 About the Author: Claire brings over 20 years of experience to PMG, where she is responsible for leading the company’s strategic initiatives. Prior to this role, she spent three years as Service Delivery Manager, where she led customer projects from inception to delivery, including the company’s largest ITFM implementation for a leading Fortune 200 company. Her broad business experience includes various advisory and business management roles for companies such as Wachovia Securities, Servidyne, iXL and Cobalt Interactive. 



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