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I’ve heard all the stereotypes:

CMOs are the left-brain of the enterprise. CIOs are the right. CMOs don’t know when to say “no.” CIOs never say “yes.” CMOs sprint ahead too fast. CIOs plod along too slow. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But, that’s the thing about stereotypes. They’re based on generalized misconceptions that, when reinforced, do nothing more than divide us into two camps: us vs. them. They’re simple-minded, misleading – and for CMOs today, they’re terribly counterproductive.

Granted, marketing and IT are different disciplines, and traditionally, CMOs and CIOs have approached problems in different ways. But, the digital marketing revolution has changed all that. Now, technology is critical to improve marketing performance and processes and deliver better, more integrated campaigns with higher ROI. Smart CMOs realize that any rift that exists between marketing and IT must be healed immediately.  It’s time to put aside our differences so  we learn to master the modern fire hose of digital customer data and actively drive revenue growth strategies in full collaboration with IT.

Or, if you’d like me to put it another way:

If you’re still locked in the thinking that CIOs are from Mars, and CMOs are from Venus (hat tip to John Gray), it’s time for you to fly on over to Mars for a visit.

Believe me, the IT team will be glad you did…and a recent report from Forrester explains why.

You see, according to Mastering Customer Data – A CIO Imperative, IT is equally keen about building a strategic partnership with marketing.  CIOs recognize that these days it’s not just marketing that drives business growth –it’s digital marketing that drives business growth. Technology and marketing are now inextricably tied. Success depends on collaboration.

“In this new era (of the empowered customer), mastering customer data becomes the key to success and represents the biggest opportunity for IT to influence business results since the dawn of the Internet,” writes Nigel Fenwick, lead author of the report.

Throughout its 13 pages, the report offers numerous valuable insights about the emerging CIO-CMO interdependence –presented from the perspective of IT. For example, Fenwick makes it clear that marketing and IT must now work together to focus on the customer around four specific areas:

  • Data collection. This includes all internal and external customer channels.
  • Automated analysis. Analytics lead to actionable insights.
  • Targeted distribution. Use the data to empower the employees/partners who can effectively interact with customers.
  • Superior customer experience. The goal is to deliver a brand experience that’s compelling, customized and consistent across all touchpoints.

The report also offers specific suggestions to help CIOs structure their teams for success with marketing (refreshing to view this advice through the IT lens). These recommendations include:

  • Demonstrate trust. Tear down the silos. Break through the stereotypes. Listen. And work from a foundation of mutual respect.
  • Hire IT staff with marketing expertise. In other words, create teams that can communicate. From my perspective, it also makes perfect sense for marketing to hire staff with IT expertise, as well.
  • Focus on customer insight and real-time analytics.Success in the digital marketplace will require deep information analytics capability.


(This list makes me think about what more we can be doing from the marketing side to support robust strategic partnerships with IT.)

The marketing industry is moving towards even tighter integration and innovation around digital marketing, social media and real-time marketing analytics. Connecting the dots is imperative. Responding before your competitors do is vital. Underscoring the point, many B2B organizations are now blending the two roles, creating a single executive position with the dual CIO-CMO title.

At the end of the day, it’s about the customer experience, and clearly, marketers can no longer go it alone. We need to develop a shared view of the customer with IT, sales and other stakeholders –and we need to work collaboratively to drive business success. Start building those bridges today. My guess is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the reception you receive . . . and I guarantee you’ll find out that it’s a heck of a lot easier than flying to Mars.