HomeBlog Top Seven Ways to Enhance CMO/CIO Alignment

Top Seven Ways to Enhance CMO/CIO Alignment

October 02, 2017 | By Alan Gonsenhauser

  • An organization’s CMO and CIO should work together to drive cross-functional alignment and productive technology deployments
  • Marketing and IT should pool their expertise to satisfy the expectations of today’s b-to-b buyers and customers
  • Shared goals supported by common metrics can boost the collective impact of marketing and IT

In today’s complex b-to-b environment, marketing and IT must work together to satisfy highly empowered buyers and customers, maintain information security and effectively leverage technology. The ability to access and use the right information at the right time to create outstanding customer experiences has become a competitive advantage and key brand differentiator.

Savvy CMOs know that the CIO can be a critical organizational ally. There are thousands of marketing and sales technologies at our disposal to drive new leads and increased marketing and sales process productivity. With all of these potential options, it’s more important than ever to pick the right technologies, effectively test and deploy them, and integrate them into marketing and sales tech stacks. CMOs and CIOs are trying to strategically meet demanding customer needs – and they are a powerful combination with a closely aligned partnership. Here are the top seven actions to accelerate the critical CMO/CIO relationship and alignment:

  • One: Start collaborating. Marketing and IT often operate in silos, with marketing focused on producing materials and executing creative tactics to boost awareness and outbound lead generation, and IT focused on the back office, transactional systems and databases, cost efficiency, desktop and network maintenance, and security. Today’s b-to-b buyers expect a seamless customer experience, which means content that meets their needs at the right time and in the right place. This requires greater cross-functional collaboration between marketing and IT, including killing any cultural friction, speaking the same language, and creating a combined marketing and IT agenda.
  • Two: Accelerate customer experiences. Marketing and IT play critical roles in capturing and gaining actionable insights from customer data. The CIO must enable the organization to capture, organize and leverage enterprise customer data and analytics technologies to produce actionable insights. The CMO must coordinate cross-functional customer engagement functions (e.g. customer marketing, customer experience, customer success) that affect the customer experience. Focus combined efforts on an understanding of the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle, and the cross-functional line-of-sight to internal and external customer information.
  • Three: Productive technology infrastructure deployments. To improve customer experiences and scale corporate growth, CMOs and CIOs must work together to implement and optimize technologies that support productive workflows, including tool selection and implementation, marketing and IT budget management, and defining and integrating marketing tools.
  • Four: Robust security and privacy. In the interest of protecting customer, prospect and organizational data, organizations must understand the data privacy regulations in every region they operate in, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (coming in 2018) or HIPAA rules in healthcare. The CMO should appoint a marketing representative, ideally from marketing operations, to work with IT on governance and security issues. The CIO should work with this individual to educate and prepare the marketing team on key issues.
  • Five: Common measurements. To drive cross-functional alignment and continuous improvement, the CMO and CIO must define what success looks like. Marketing and IT are often misaligned because they track different data sources and/or metrics when measuring results and identifying successes and gaps. IT and marketing should agree on which dashboard metrics drive results and where IT can help marketing continuously improve these results. These should include parsing activity from output from impact metrics, assessing readiness and needs for marketing and IT to be successful, and selecting the appropriate customer-focused metrics.
  • Six: Joint processes and alignment. The CMO and CIO should outline clear processes for joint decisionmaking and collaboration between marketing and IT. Follow a two-phase approach – discovery and analysis, followed by execution and optimization to meet alignment challenges. Attention should be placed on a frequent cadence of meetings, decision governance processes, role clarity, and agile project management to examine the most efficient and effective approaches.
  • Seven: Aligned leadership and communications. Effective communication and leadership enables a mutually successful and sustainable partnership. The CMO and CIO need to have ongoing strategic dialogues, model alignment behaviors, encourage cross-functional staff experiences, and be transparent about joint successes and challenges.

Marketing and IT are both seeking to become more strategic today. Visionary CMOs and CIOs are breaking down historical silos. They understand that strong relationships between marketing and IT are necessary to enhance customer experiences, meet security and regulatory requirements, and increase process productivity and cost effectiveness. While the benefits of improved working relationships are clear, the path to a strategic partnership requires structured guidelines, processes and governance between leaders and their teams. So – call your CIO and start the conversation!

Alan Gonsenhauser

Alan Gonsenhauser is a Research Director of CMO and Marketing Executive Strategies at SiriusDecisions. He is passionate about accelerating growth, driving innovations and leading business transformations. At SiriusDecisions, he works closely with global chief marketing officers and sales and product leaders to drive positive organizational change and cross-functional alignment, benchmark against peers, and mobilize deployment of new marketing methods to accelerate innovation and growth. Follow Alan on Twitter @agonsenhauser.

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