The business case for a strong CMO-CIO partnership: A guide

The business case for a strong CMO-CIO partnership: A guide
Bonnie Crater is president and CEO at Full Circle Insights. Prior to joining Full Circle Insights, Bonnie Crater was a five-time vice president of marketing and executive at many software companies in Silicon Valley. Bonnie held vice president and senior vice president roles at Genesys, Netscape, Network Computer Inc.,, Stratify, Realization, and VoiceObjects (now Voxeo). A ten-year veteran of Oracle Corporation and its various subsidiaries, Bonnie was vice president, Compaq Products Division and vice president, Workgroup Products Division. In 2013, Bonnie was named one of the “100 Most Influential Women” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, in 2015 the Sales Lead Management Association named her one of the “20 Women to Watch” and in 2016 Diversity Journal honored her as one of the “Women Worth Watching.” Bonnie holds a B.A. in biology from Princeton University.

Digital transformation has been a trending topic in the business world for several years, but out of necessity, efforts to upgrade digital capabilities accelerated sharply in 2020. With social distancing measures in place, millions of office workers tackling their workload from home, and consumers and business buyers researching products and making purchases online, companies had little choice.

Digital marketing accounted for more than half of ad spending in 2020 for the first time ever. And while vaccine distribution provides hope of a return to a more normal life, the way people make purchasing decisions and buy products changed during the pandemic. Marketing leaders are betting on a digital-focused future by adopting martech solutions at an accelerated pace. In the Gartner CMO Spend Survey, nearly 70% said they expected to increase martech investments over the next 12 months.

As companies settle into a more permanent pattern of heightened digital activity and add tools to accommodate a higher volume of digital interactions, it’s becoming clearer that CMOs and CIOs must work together more closely. By aligning their activities and working as a team, CMOs and CIOs can improve the customer experience, ease the process of integrating new martech solutions that drive innovation and improve efficiency across the board.

Focusing on the customer experience

The shadow IT phenomenon is real, and it’s not uncommon for CMOs to deploy martech solutions without coordinating with the CIO. But there’s one great reason to change that and collaborate on new technology investments: customers. CIOs have internal and external customers in mind when putting together the infrastructure that’s used by marketing and every other line of business. CMOs use that same infrastructure to gather data and reach out to customers.

When CMOs and CIOs team up on decisions about martech and cloud solutions, they can improve data and application integration, and that results in a better customer experience. Data integration makes it possible for the company to create highly personalised, relevant experiences for customers who are engaging with the organisation on digital channels.

Another point in favor of more CMO-CIO collaboration: there’s evidence that it increases revenue. An Infosys survey found that 44% of business respondents believe a higher level of CMO-CIO cooperation improves profits. The CMO’s deep understanding of the customer journey, combined with the CIO’s insight into the enterprise IT infrastructure, are both essential for optimising digital interactions.

Integrating to drive martech innovation

CMOs avoid consulting their CIO before making martech purchases for a variety of reasons. Maybe they have a pressing need for a new solution and want to avoid any delays. Perhaps they’re concerned about being second-guessed on a decision or just don’t think coordinating technology purchases with the CIO is important. It’s time to rethink that logic.

CIOs have an area of expertise that is especially critical now: data integration. CMOs will need to tap that expertise as they deploy new martech solutions. CMOs who are thinking about adding new solutions to their technology stack have a golden opportunity to build a productive partnership with the CIO by asking their opinion on prospective products before making a purchase.

Data integration is currently fueling innovation in martech, so there has never been a better time for CMOs to reach out to the CIO and build a positive relationship. Many martech solutions have basic integration capabilities out of the box, but for the advanced configurations that drive innovation, CMOs will need the higher skill levels CIOs can provide.

Examining the CRM integration use case

In B2B marketing shops, there’s existing evidence of how transformational data integration can be: the CRM. Many B2B marketers already use the company’s CRM to track leads through the marketing and sales funnel and create reports. By integrating marketing and sales data inside the CRM, B2B marketers can produce reports with metrics that resonate outside of marketing, including in the C-suite.

Marketers can significantly improve process efficiency by using funnel metrics and tracking leads inside the CRM. For example, they can analyse data to identify and address bottlenecks, such as a marketing-to-sales handoff that results in leads falling through the cracks. Marketers can also analyse campaign performance inside the CRM, identifying which campaigns generate the highest ROI so they can allocate budgets more efficiently.

CRM integration is a powerful proof point that demonstrates how CMOs can benefit from more efficient processes and investment. Closer collaboration with the CIO can introduce other opportunities to leverage integration to drive automation and power further innovation.

Building a closer relationship with the CIO

For all of these reasons, this is an excellent time for CMOs and CIOs to build closer ties. CMOs can make the first move, working to create trust in the same way they’d go about building any other business partnership. An invitation for a brief, informal meeting over lunch could be the catalyst, and there will be plenty to talk about, such as new martech innovations.

When taking the first steps to create a partnership, it may help to focus on what CMOs and CIOs have in common. Ultimately, both share the goals of improving the customer experience and driving better business outcomes. Data integration and martech innovation are means to those ends — and that makes a strong business case for closer CMO-CIO cooperation.

Read more: How to deliver the experiences the CMO craves – through the systems the CIO needs

Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

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One comment on “The business case for a strong CMO-CIO partnership: A guide

  1. Dirk Wilson on

    A great read, thanks Bonnie!

    A unified CMO & CIO strategy to leverage innovative ad tech & mar tech solutions is a must. Our team here have been spending hundreds of hours working with inhouse marketing teams and agency teams to innovate workflows and data insights to ultimately save advertisers time, money and eliminate risk exposure due to error prone, manual processes that should be digitized and cloud based.


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