Primer: CIO and CMO need to work together

While big data becomes available to more companies through cloud applications and other technology, it requires a much more open dialogue between marketing and IT departments…

            As the leaders of these teams, it is up to the CIO, CMO, (and CEO) to effectively anticipate the needs of their departments, and properly prepare so they can work all work together, effectively.

“As marketing becomes fully digital, CMOs need more than just plain-vanilla tech services from their IT departments — much more.” – (7 things marketing want to say to IT)

In an article by Mary K. Pratt, she brings up some interesting “things that marketing wants to say to IT” … The items brought up in this article include:

     1)    Understand our new KPIs

     2)    Deliver on analytics

     3)    Guide my technology spend

     4)    …but let me run my own systems

     5)    Loosen the handcuffs, please

>>> The rise of the chief marketing technologist

     6)    Teach us how to dive deep

     7)    Help us meet our customers wherever they are

     Another article, from the Harvard Business Review, describes the importance of the relationship between CMOs and CIOs in more detail. In fact, the article’s headline: CMOs and CIOs Need to Get Along to Make Big Data Work, gets right to the point. In this article, the authors describe the relationship in the following way:

The CMO and CIO are natural partners: the CMO has an unprecedented amount of customer data, from which s/he needs to extract insights to drive revenue and profits. The CIO has the talent and expertise in infrastructure development to create the company’s Big Data backbone and generate the necessary insights.”

That article is really worth reading for more on the subject. “In addition to clearly defined goal, empathy, and a shared covabulary there are five other imperatives necesary for CMOs and CIOs to make their partnerhip work:” … read the article to find out what these 5 things are.

The amount of data, and the difficulty of finding the time to research and utilize insights, depends greatly on the size of the organization you work for. However, in many organizations there is an evolution of the “marketing technologist”…which can be hugely valuable to both Marketing and IT departments. A few quotes from this article shed more light on the relations…

“The truth is, CMOs and CIOs have the potential to grow the pie – really grow it – but only if they stop worrying about who is going to “win”.  The bottom line is, CMOs and CIOs must be able to work together to merge market vision and technology opportunity to deliver innovation and growth.”

The article is featured in Information Age, and it is also a post very much worth reading.

Using those two words, market vision, and technology opportunity can go a long way in defining the role of data in different environments. Developing a common language is a big part of corporate culture.

Along the same lines, here is another article (written by Mary Shacklett from Tech Republic) that discusses how the problem relates to the market research analyst, and the position “needing a boss to report to”…especially in organizations that are not traditionally focused on market research:

“When you’re a market research analyst in a non-market research-oriented company, it can be one of the most frustrating experiences out there. For instance, will you report to IT, even though your major responsibility is performing technical research for the marketing department? Or should you report to IT, since most of your skill set is IT oriented?”

She goes on to talk about this problem in the context of the banking industry, and how things are changing in the context of the movement into a “big-data” environment:

In the banking industry, this conflict between marketing and IT first surfaced with the appearance of customer information systems (CIS) 30 years ago. During the pre-big data era, CIS were created by IT or outside service providers as data marts that could be queried for customer demographic information by marketing. The information was then used in target marketing campaigns.

But with today’s focus on big data as a corporate strategic asset, executive expectations and responsibilities for creating actionable information and then acting on it have also been raised—even in industries (like banking) where market research was rarely emphasized. 

     This change is being seen across nearly every industry…and the implications are serious for both IT and Marketing, allowing both increased collaboration and increased autonomy through the integration of new interfaces to collect, manage, and analyze data without needing to be a computer scientist.

To illustrate, in a 2011 survey of more than 4,900 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs), IBM concluded that there was a “call to action for improved collaboration between CMOs and CIOs…brought on by a digital revolution that now requires marketing to become more technical in its analytics.” 

As research firm Forrester observed in 2011,

The CIO’s number-one job in the coming decades will be to drive business results—and by definition this requires CIOs to reshape IT for future success. Failure by CIOs to recognize this shift and shape a new IT for the future will result in turnover in IT leadership. CEOs can no longer afford IT leaders without the vision and influence to effect business change.”

The observation from Forrester could just as easily have been made about CMOs, because now is the time to abandon territoriality, familiarize one another with each other’s disciplines, and learn how to “pull the wagon” together—with the CEO out in front as a definite lead.


By Ben Rossi, comments by Kevin Cochrane of OpenText | 2/7/2014

By Jesko Perrey and Matt Ariker (HBR) | February 4, 2014

By Mark Fidelman, contributor on

 Mary K. Pratt (Computerworld – US) | 2/05/ 2014

By Virginia Backaitis | Dec 9, 2013 

By Mary Shacklett | 2/13/2014

By Pete Swabey (Information Age) | 1/16/2013



Should an aspiring entrepreneur mention that he wants to be an entrepreneur in an interview?

In my experience, I have started some really great conversations with potential employers by talking about a side project or entrepreneurial venture that I’ve worked on in the past…so I think if you have something you worked on in the past, it’s not totally out of line to bring it up. (That is, if it is related to experience/value you bring to that company..which most of the time it won’t be, so take care)

In terms of wanting to be an entrepreneur in the future, I don’t think that would come off the way you would hope with an employer…you might want to show that you are a self-starter and have an innovative way of thinking about things, but ultimately it is more important to show them that you are committed to working at that company. In a job interview, I think it is important to talk about how you are excited to work for THAT company, and are interested in what THEY do.

I wouldn’t take my word as gold, but I thought some insight from my experience as a recent graduate from UMass might be a little bit helpful. To that end, I would also mention that your ambition to take the risk of starting a new venture is something I think many college students feel, but keep your mind open to other opportunities. You might find that many employers share the values that you consider meaningful, and there are many opportunities to be a valued member of a company that is already achieving much of the success you hope to have yourself. This would hopefully give you the personal satisfaction of working for something you care about, as well as the added experience that you can use when you end up setting out on your own.

Leverage the fact that you are a student and still exploring your opportunities, and try to reach out to different companies that you find interesting…figure out what they need, and start making connections. You can use this research to develop the skills and make yourself the ideal candidate for a job or internship at a great company…that way you can continue to build and network while working in a related field until you are able to pursue your long term entrepreneurial goals.

If you’ve heard of the “4 hour work week”, a book by Tim Ferris, it references a somewhat new idea of the “intrepreneur”, someone who uses entreprenuerial skill from inside a large corporation. (also from “Lean Startup”, etc.) Innovation and freedom are taking over as common practice not only in start ups but in larger corporations as well. I think most of the draw of being an entrepreneur is the freedom, and it is worth considering the possibility of finding a company that satisfies your entrepreneurial spirit, while also providing experience you can use, and provides you with a steady income. This book talks a lot about methods that let you be more productive and potentially start your entrepreneurial venture while you are still a full time employee.

Anyway, best of luck, I hope this was somewhat helpful!

I think it’s a great question to ask, and hopefully you get some answers from other business owners or recruiting professionals.