In the past, getting IT and Marketing into the same room was an achievement. So can it be that IT and Marketing are finally getting along like best friends? Well, maybe not quite yet, but they’re getting there. In a recent poll of CIOs and CMOs, more than half agreed that alignment between technology and marketing was necessary. Only one in 10, however, felt that such a perfect union was imminent.

The attraction between IT and Marketing is that most venerated of all aphrodisiacs: fear. IT and Marketing departments have read the Ones and Zeros on the wall, and they’re terrified of Digital Disruption: the idea that so much data is being created so quickly, that businesses can lose their customers and lose control of their brand before they can react.

In my keynote at our annual PARTNERS User Group Conference, held this week in Dallas, Texas, I talked about this most unlikely of partnerships. And it comes down to this: CIOs and CMOs both need to keep their customers happy. Today, marketing departments are a company’s biggest consumer and generator of data. What’s more, according to Gartner, in four years, they’ll be the biggest buyers of technology. In other words, IT’s biggest customer will soon be Marketing, ergo, Marketing’s customers in a very real sense will become IT’s customers too.

With a common enemy (Digital Disruption) and a common goal (Understanding and Delighting The Customer), it’s not so surprising that IT and Marketing are warming up to one another. The new reality is this: If you want to get closer to your customers, you need to get on top of your data. Data-driven marketing isn’t a strategic initiative anymore, it’s an operational mandate, and CIOs and CMOs understand that better than anyone because they’ve been analyzing and proselytizing data for years.

A truly successful partnership is one that brings out the best in both partners. When IT and Marketing work together, amazing things can happen. Customers come into focus. Data silos disappear. What For? gets replaced by What If?

Disruption and change are inevitable. Success is optional. When companies choose to adopt data-driven marketing, they’re opting to be disruptive rather than be disrupted. Within our own customer base, we’ve seen 82% of our customers increase their market share by using data-driven marketing strategies.

IT and Marketing will probably never see eye-to-eye on everything. But, by putting aside their philosophical differences and focusing on the customer, they’re creating a new vision for companies where big data itself is no longer an obstacle but an opportunity. An ally to work with toward success. To get there, marketers and engineers need to become allies too. So let’s work together. It’s what our customers would want us to do.