Marketing used to be about gut feel but today it is all about data. The one person who can help the CMO generate, interrogate and act on that data is the CIO.

Why the Best CIOs Partner with Their CMOs (It’s All about Alignment in a Digital World)

CIOs and CMOs used to have very different roles. Marketing sought to understand and reach out to customers and prospects in their industry while IT kept the proverbial engine running. Systems ran in the background but were not always business critical for the CMO.

Today, though, marketing is data-driven thanks to the vast amount of information available from digital channels. In fact, digital ad spend (including mobile marketing) in the UK is expected to hit £8.1 billion by the end of 2015, accounting for £1 of every £2 of advertising spend.

C-level marriage

The data from digital marketing has to be generated, interrogated, understood, implemented and then analysed in a constant cycle in which the CMO and the CIO have to build an unbreakable bond. It is no longer a case of IT supporting the marketing department but instead working together the two business units can drive business growth.
Together the CIO and CMO can identify ways of serving customers better as well as identifying, targeting and acquiring new clients through innovative approaches to marketing and customer experience.

33% of CIOs have started collaborating more closely with their marketing counterparts than three years ago

Hence, it is not surprising to hear that in the era of data-driven marketing that Gartner forecasts that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than any other department within a typical organisation.

How to get started

While we await this tipping point, it is commonly accepted that it will prompt many organisations to build marketing operations teams. Staffed by experts in systems and data, supporting the area where IT and Marketing overlap, allowing the CMO and CIO to make data-based decisions.

52% of CMOs rank Marketing IT at, or near, the top of their priorities

For those at the beginning of the journey there are many ways of fostering closer working relationships. Some organisations run ‘hackathons’ where Marketing and IT executives get together and dream up new tools that would fulfil a function better than current systems.

According to Forrester 60% of CMOs and CIOs enjoy a relationship of mutual trust and respect

Setting up teams to run new individual projects is also a good idea. Many organisations are reporting back that by starting off with Marketing and IT around the same table they are able to be far more agile. Projects are typically started with a better understanding on both sides of what is required and achievable within a realistic timeline.This provides common objectives rather than marketing feeling they do not have access to the required systems and data and IT feeling that marketing is making unrealistic requests.

By working together, projects can shift in line with changes in the market. This can, of course, only happen once the CMO and CIO are aligned with the common objective of driving growth in the new era of data-driven economies.


  • Drive CIO/CMO alignment by setting customer or revenue goals for Marketing and IT heads
  • Drive business growth through data based decision-making
  • Optimise customer experience by implementing the right systems, tools and processes

Discover how, through finding allies, such as the CMO, IT can ensure user adoption and improved ROI by downloading the eGuide The connected business: ROI=(user adoption + strategic allies)

This article was first published on the Arkadin Blog