Dear CIO, Chief Marketing Officer's Success Depends on You

A recent post in listed the 10 best IT resolutions for 2013 with a fantastic list of future technology trends and analyst projections. The one resolution that stood out for me was labeled: 'become buddies with the CMO.' An IDC analyst noted: "If you're in a consumer-driven industry, you need to get very close to the CMO because that's where the real innovation and strategic investment is going to happen." The post also noted that 40 percent of new IT investments will be the decision of the line of business executive and not with IT.

A 2013 State of the CIO survey suggested that CIOs are earning business credibility and are likely to gain stature as business strategists because of mobility and advanced analytics related projects. Sixty-four percent of nearly 600 IT leaders in the survey said they plan on marketing the IT department in 2013 to demonstrate capabilities and alignment to business. Clearly there is pressure for CIOs to defend the relevancy of IT by adopting more collaborative practices with peers and business stakeholders.

The pressure for CIOs to earn a seat at the strategic table was greatly enhanced by Gartner's report in 2012 that pointed to the CMO as the champion of the technology budget in the near future. The debate on who will outspend who perhaps the wrong point of emphasis as noted by Chris Murphy's -- editor of InformationWeek -- recent post. Murphy noted that marketing needs technology to be successful and they are researching techniques to bolster awareness and consideration campaigns. IT needs to be equally immersed in these studies. The end game is not about marketing but rather 'digitizing customer interactions.'

The explosive growth and velocity of new technologies is a challenge for line of business owners, especially marketing. A recent Harvard Business Review article noted that "70 percent of CMOs feel they are underprepared to manage the explosion of data and "lack true insight." Chief Marketing Officers must partner with CIOs to successfully compete in today's market. A wonderfully written blog by Intel's CIO, Kim Stevenson, she noted: "The future of marketing lies at the intersection of corporate marketing and IT. Through close collaboration CMOs and CIOs can reinvent the customer experience. CIOs and CMOs should thus become BFFs."

CIOs have an amazing opportunity to greatly impact their company's success. Specifically, CIOs can partner with marketing leaders to optimize the use of technology to increase execution velocity and scale departmental efficiencies. Here are the ways the CIO can help marketing be more successful:

  1. Understand marketing -- This seems easy and obvious, but it is actually very difficult. Marketing is getting more and more sophisticated, complex, data driven and technology centric, so it is important for CIOs to understand the new marketing era we live in. Advice: ask your CMO to invite to her staff meetings or at a minimum volunteer to update the marketing team on IT projects on monthly or quarterly basis.

  • Understand the market -- Know what other successful companies are doing. CIOs can bring enormous value to the marketing relationship if they understand what great companies are doing to leverage technology. Advice: attending technology and analyst conferences.
  • Promote and establish company alignment -- Align Sales, Marketing and IT leadership to promote interdepartmental cross-functional collaboration models. When companies have aligned Sales & Marketing functions they outperform their peers. IT is in an ideal position to broker and facilitate these relationships.
  • Become the buyer's guide -- IT departments are buyers, spending money on products and services more than most departments. The CIO can help marketing understand buyer's needs, overall market trends, and what messages resonate the most. Advice: broker IT and marketing stakeholder meetings with tech vendors and analysts and actively participate in the procurement process.
  • Champion innovation -- In some cases the IT department is more comfortable and more aware of new and emerging technology. The CIO can help marketing get in front of new technology -- social, marketing automation, crowdsourcing, gamification, big data, predictive analytics, sales behavioral modeling -- and innovative business processes and should take an active role in pushing innovation forward. Advice: schedule IT sponsored lunch and learn sessions to introduce new market and tech trends.
  • Get out of the way -- Conversely, the CIO should let marketing invest in technology where it needs to without unnecessary IT bureaucracy. Marketing departments are increasingly consuming IT tools and marketing needs to be nimble and fast moving to stay competitive.
  • Be social -- A social CIO is not just about IT leadership using social media or social technologies but rather a mindset that embraces inclusiveness and ultimately defaulting to 'yes.' Give up the command-and-control mindset and instead embrace collaboration and co-creation of value. I have found this to be true across all industries, and especially so in higher education, where collaboration across students, faculty and staff is essential to success.
  • Extend the marketing arm -- CIO and her team should promote marketing campaigns via social media, worth of mouth marketing and ultimately demonstrate that they value and support marketing by actively championing their efforts. Advice: view marketing not as a department, but rather a process that includes all stakeholders that are actively working to improve sales enablement.
  • Value design and emotion -- CIOs should understand that marketing is not all technology. Good design and emotion are important. IT should value the creative side of marketing and understand the need for pixel perfection, not just functionality and utility. When CIO's don't value this aspect of marketing, marketing does its own thing.
  • Leave the office -- CIOs need to leave their office and join the CMO at company conferences, customer site visits, and partner events. Bolstering CIOs business acumen includes understanding the product portfolio, the competitive landscape and most importantly the challenges that marketing must overcome to increase awareness, consideration and customer acquisition.
  • I also crowdsourced this post by asking my Twitter network for their input by asking the following: 'The CIO can help marketing be successful if ___' -- see the wonderful tweet answers below: [Twitter addresses in brackets]

    • Joanna Young [@UNHcio] -- CIOs can help marketing by ensuring they have direct access to customer data. No lines, no waiting.
    • Brian Vellmure [@BrianVellmure] -- can better enable marketers to understand their prospects & customers at more detailed level... and to respond with the right content on the right channel at the right time
    • Lou Rinaldi [@LouRinaldi] -- clearly and meaningfully demonstrate the value proposition to all impacted constituencies, in their own languages
    • TC Morgan-LaRosa [@TCFrisco] -- lead with their expertise delivering systematic solutions for qualitative deliver and dash
    • Chris Lindner [@clindyrun] -- Get out of the office, meet some customers, spend time in the field, and learn everything you can about your consumer.
    • Todd Enders [@toddenders] -- step out of the tower and sit with telesales; go on a day of sales calls; sit through a mktg campaign cycle
    • Mandy Edwards [@memktgservices] -- I think you have to be willing to try something new. Whether it's an outside the box idea or a new social media tool.
    • Gail Twist [@gailtwist] -- by providing a business partner to work together with the customer in mind
    • John Appleby [@applebyj] -- CIOs can help marketing by spending time with our customers
    • Mark Towler [@MarkBTowler] -- CIOs can help marketing by maintaining active social relationships with press and analysts. Followed by: When the CIO knows analysts and reporters then the AR/PR marketing plan writes itself!
    • Ed Schlesinger [@studentforce] -- get involved and become 'social'

    This post was co-authored by Benjamin Doyle [Twitter: @benjamincdoyle] who embodies all of the attributes of the best and brightest CIOs.

    This post is part of a series co-produced by The Huffington Post and Blogworld, in conjunction with the latter's BusinessNext Social 2013. That event will feature some of the world's leading social-business luminaries and influencers, each of whom will be speaking at the event to provide an up-close look at how the world's most successful businesses harness the power of social.