We hear a lot lately about how the CIO and the CMO ought to collaborate to create innovation in the enterprise. Is it really happening?
In the past year, I've seen a few stellar examples of how CIOs and CMOs can collaborate to the benefit of their enterprises, as well as their own careers. The most notable example for me is the relationship between the CIO and CMO of the NASCAR event producer International Speedway Corp.
I've also heard about a lot of dysfunction between the CIO and CMO offices, particularly in light of a Gartner report that predicts CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs do by 2017.
Forward-thinking CIOs understand they need to play an important role in the customer-facing strategy, and they're ready to step up to the challenge.
Late last month, I attended a roundtable luncheon in which the CIO and CMO of Dell shared their experiences working as a unified team. Their collaboration started two years ago and offers solid examples of how to kick off such a relationship and where it can take you.
Dell vice president/CIO Adriana (Andi) Karaboutis and Dell senior vice president/CMO Karen Quintos teamed up with the shared goal of creating a single view of the company's customers. "The thesis statement is that we are really driving to shape and understand and create the best user and customer experience that we can," Karaboutis told us before her roundtable discussion. "We're realizing at the company that it's not just about a sale experience or a service experience. It's really an end-to-end consumer experience and life experience with Dell."
Quintos expanded on that thesis during the roundtable discussion. "We went to Andi's team two years ago with our huge team and said, 'We need one view of the customer for support and for sales.' Through our business architecture team -- with services, support, and sales -- we embraced the notion of one view of the customer."
Each executive had individual departmental challenges, as well. Quintos was tasked with scaling crucial customer information across the 4,000 marketing professionals working at Dell. Karaboutis was in the midst of an IT restructuring that had 4,500 professionals moving back into a single core IT organization.
One of the most immediate results of the collaboration was a change in how the business organization viewed IT. Previously "the IT organization was waiting for priorities to be given to us," Karaboutis said. "Now, we get to have a voice in what those priorities are."
The IT infrastructure also allows for segmented environments, so that the tech-savvy members of the company's marketing team can develop ideas on their own and with IT's support.
According to Quintos, the relationship starts with a strategic alliance around shared goals and accountability. Now, "when I hear peers of mine get frustrated with the CIO organization because they want to implement a new technology idea, I ask 'How do you scale that?' and 'How do you integrate that?'"
Karaboutis reported: "Now, people are calling me for advice and telling me what they need. And, as opposed to saying, 'You can't do that,' we can say, 'You can't do it this way. You have to do it that way, but you can do it.'"
Security is the primary driver for Karaboutis in directing how marketing projects can be executed. "Our DNA is around security. We have to be completely on top of our game. That's the credibility that our IT team has to bring to the table."
Quintos said she makes sure the marketing organization keeps security top of mind, as well. "We're putting policies in place around access to the customer database, as well as utilization and access to third-party resources."
The CIO-CMO collaboration here hinges on a business architecture team, which is made up of executives from many groups at Dell, such as services, enterprise, software, client, marketing, sales, and finance. "This group guides our IT agenda, our organizational agenda, and our process agenda," said Karaboutis. "It's probably one of the most advanced organizations I've worked with."
What Quintos and Karaboutis are building -- and how they're approaching the collaborative effort -- is very much in line with what Gartner analyst Jennifer Beck recommended in her blog post "CMOs: Are You Cheating On Your CIO?"
For CIO and CMOs who have less collegial relationship than Karaboutis and Quintos, Beck advised: "Start with finding some common ground because pounding on the past and harping on differences just isn't helpful." Here are six things she suggested that every CIO and CMO consider:
- Both CIOs and CMOs know how to get things done.
- They both rely on making good technology decisions to help them make an impact on the business. And they become dependent on that stable of providers.
- They both love the next new tech toy or gadget and like showing them off.
- They both have huge suggestion boxes nailed to their virtual doors because everyone is a self-appointed expert in their field.
- The leadership team thinks they can produce magical results within their current constraints -- because they often pull it off.
- And they both don't sleep through the night. Their jobs are never actually done. They could always be doing something more.
What do you think? Does IT have more in common with marketing than you'd previously thought? Are CIOs and CMOs on the right track by collaborating, or do IT and marketing need to keep their separation in order to keep the peace? Share your thoughts in the comments field below.