The Digital Disconnect Between CMOs and CIOs

A new survey of these C-suite executives illustrates the differences in perspectives on digital marketing strategy and how CMOs and CIOs can benefit from a better working relationship.

It’s no secret that technology is playing an increasingly important role in marketing. In fact, some argue technology is the bedrock of good digital marketing strategy.

I have received many positive comments in the past when I went the extra mile to proactively explain what my department was working on. Executives like having knowledge, and this is the best kind.

“Marketing and technology have become so intertwined that technology should now be thought of as the foundation of marketing,” wrote Forrester Research analyst Sheryl Pattek in a blog post earlier this year. “Effective customer engagement across the ever-growing touch points of the digital age requires technology to support your marketing objectives.”

And, last year, technology research firm Gartner predicted that by 2017, chief marketing officers (CMOs) will outspend chief information officers (CIOs) on IT.

The evidence suggests there is a need for a good working relationship between these two executives. But new research illustrates CMOs and CIOs might have a lack of trust, as well as some competing priorities.

According to “The CMO-CIO Disconnect,” an Accenture study that surveyed 400 senior marketing and 250 IT executives, CMOs are relying on technology primarily to gain customer insight, whereas CIOs report their primary reason for collaborating with marketing is to improve the customer experience.

Other discrepancies in CMO and CIO beliefs that the study found include:

  • Seventy-seven percent of CIOs want to be aligned with CMOs, but only 56 percent of CMOs feel the same.
  • When working on a marketing project, 36 percent of CMOs report IT deliverables fall short of the desired outcome, and 46 percent of CIOs report marketing does not provide enough details to meet project requirements.
  • More than 30 percent of CMOs and CIOs believe IT does not keep marketing in the loop or make time and technical resources available.

While almost half of each of the marketing and technology executives did report that their relationship had improved over the last year, there’s room to grow. The study offered several solutions to help these two execs collaborate more efficiently, including for CMOs to accept IT as a strategic partner rather than a platform provider, working to ensure that both departments are more skilled in each other’s areas of work, and improving trust.

On the topic of trust, Thad Lurie, managing director at Old Town IT, wrote in an ASAE newsletter article [login required] that there is no “best way” to build this kind of reliance among departments, but, by being aware of the need, executives can proactively work toward building better relationships.

Lurie suggested several ways to build trust, including being responsive and practicing two-way communication and transparency.

“I have received many positive comments in the past when I went the extra mile to proactively explain what my department was working on,” Lurie wrote. “Executives like having knowledge, and this is the best kind.”

This includes executives of all departments. Earlier this year, Velma Hart, FASAE, CAE, CFO at the Thurgood ­Marshall ­College Fund, told Associations Now that she depends on the CIO at her organization for advice and direction in choosing and implementing the latest in technology systems and programs.

“I want to make sure that I’m meeting the needs of my members, of my constituent base, or just the public at large,” Hart said. “I’m looking for that kind of guidance and direction and, frankly, forward thinking. I want [the IT team] to be thinking ahead about where we should go and not just maintaining today’s applications.”

Ultimately, a good working relationship between CIOs and CFOs, or CIOs and CMOs, or any interdepartmental executives, is about putting aside personal differences, openly communicating, and moving the organization forward.

CMOs and CIOs, how are you working together to drive digital marketing strategy at your association? Let us know in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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