New research from the CMO Council reveals that both CMOs and CIOs believe big data is a key competitive differentiator and will be core to implementing a more customer-centric business culture. However, the study results also show most CMOs and CIOs consider big data part opportunity and part obstacle (61 percent of marketers and 60 percent of IT executives). In fact, 52 percent of marketers and 45 percent of IT professionals believe functional silos block aggregation of data from across the organization, making it difficult to truly achieve customer centricity.

Image courtesy of Forbes

Isn’t it time for those silos to come down? Aren’t you ready to develop a strategic partnership with the CIO?

Among the groups I’ve been meeting with (most recently at the 2013 Marketing Hall of Femme, e.g.), I can sense that marketers are feeling the pressure to integrate and become data-driven.

More specifically, here are the steps I know savvy CMOs taking as they work to eliminate obstacles and better leverage the opportunities big data provides:

Start with a reality check. Forward-thinking CMOs realize CIOs and their IT teams are essential to modernizing and integrating marketing processes both internally and externally.

Embrace collaboration. Partnerships are growing as CMOs who may not be well-versed in IT are surrounding themselves with experienced and accomplished applications marketing technologists.

Enjoy the ride. Integrating marketing and data is a BIG job, and successful CMOs are learning to pace themselves. Blending data, customer interactions and processes across organizations is not a project . . . It’s a journey.

Take a long-term view. CMOs and CIOS are building roadmaps to tackle big data challenges together –all with an eye towards elevating the customer experience.

The CMOs I see leading the marketing revolution –the ones who are driving greater value with true customer-centric strategies –are finding a way to bring marketing and IT together. Granted, many of these relationships are only beginning, but they’re growing and getting stronger with each passing Q. If you want to maintain your competitive edge, you don’t really have a choice. These days, business success depends on a robust, strategic partnership between the CMO and CIO.