CIO vs. CMO: 5 Tips to See Eye-to-Eye and Win With Mobility

At this year's recent AllThingsD Conference, Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins made the point in her presentation that we are only at the tip of a very large mobility iceberg. For the enterprise, mobility is creating opportunities for competitive advantage and both CIOs and CMOs are eyeing it as a tool to benefit their segment of the bottom line. Historically, technology choices have been the domain of the CIO, however, with BYOD trending and new consumer-inspired enterprise applications entering the market, the sales force too is pushing the technology agenda with their CMO.

So how do these two roles come to the table and agree on the best timeline and ways to integrate mobility into their workflows and customer offerings? Who do they serve first? Is a new role emerging in the enterprise for managing holistic technology approaches to meet internal and external targets? Is there a democratization of procurement happening whereby bottom-up adoption is going to win out?

Below are five items to consider if you find yourself butting heads with your counterpart over the boardroom table.

You Can't Leave Anyone Out In the Dark

Everyone knows mobility can serve employees and customers concurrently. Mobile productivity and sales tools are essential for a competitive advantage in gaining market share for any organization. Need files on the go? There's an app for that. Need to know where Joe Prospect is having lunch right now? There's an app for that. On the flip side, customers want to view a website on the mobile web that is actually functional and they probably also want to be able to access their information via a handy mobile application from your company -- these expectations are only going to rise as the mobile workforce grows to reach 1.3 billion people by 2015 according to IDC. When you're planning, don't get mired in who to serve first, plan for concurrent processes and look for best-of-breed partners who have enterprise mobility domain expertise so that you can get up and running without reinventing the wheel. Customization is also becoming standard so just because you ask for help doesn't mean you're not going to be differentiated from the crowd.

Everyone's Got Misconceptions of Cost and Time

Many CIOs and CMOs agree on one thing -- they think it will cost too much and take too long to get mobility solutions up and running. That's simply no longer the case -- today, mobile applications can be downloaded and synced with user data in minutes and company-wide deployments can take weeks not months with that timeline getting shorter and shorter. CIOs have an added layer of fear -- that initial growth will be unmanaged and will swamp IT with escalating costs. Before you head down this path of conversation remind yourselves that the Internet has helped to create a more self-reliant workforce. Give your workforce the best tools to do their jobs better and you might actually find IT's have more free time, but the longer you let everyone use apps willy nilly the bigger your future hairball.

Monetization Realization

The monetization approaches for CIOs and CMOs are very different but equally important. For CIOs, monetization will come through internal cost-savings and for CMOs it's all about closing that deal and providing customers with a familiar look and feel that's consistent with their corporate branding. Approaching mobility as a whole corporate revenue opportunity might help the two roles to see things more clearly -- saving yourself and your client's time and money means more money for you, period.

The Tangible Value is Quantifiable

Sometimes fear of adoption stems from a fear of not being able to demonstrate ROI to a CEO. It makes sense. You don't want to be the person who suggested something that you then cannot show the value of. Social media have served to lessen that anxiety though as some executives have gotten slightly more comfortable with amorphous, long-tail ROI. That said, you will be able to quantify the reduction in low-value work hours, improved data compliance and quality, cost-savings through real-time data and collaboration, increased leads and sales, and more. Having benchmarks to start with will help mobility gain further support.

Don't Forget the Intangibles

Corporate mobility is also going to create intangible value and you're going to probably have another meeting about how it will be quantified. You'll see improved recruitment and retention of next-gen employees, increased innovation through a higher touch internal environment as well as leads driven by greater brand visibility with those masses on-the-go. When making your case, remember to put the intangibles on the table.

Refusing to adopt mobility or being slow to do so is like refusing to let workers use the Internet 5-10 years ago. In retrospect, it would be a huge loss to your organization and your corporate development. Retention and recruitment will suffer, you'll have an inability to meet the needs of a growing mobile workforce, lose market share, and spend more time arguing with your C-Suite counterparts. It's a no-brainer when you weigh the long-term costs.