CIO & CMO: Working Together

Susan Nunziata, Director of Editorial | 11/11/2013 | 19 comments

Susan Nunziata
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:

  1. Both CIOs and CMOs know how to get things done.
  2. 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.
  3. They both love the next new tech toy or gadget and like showing them off.
  4. They both have huge suggestion boxes nailed to their virtual doors because everyone is a self-appointed expert in their field.
  5. The leadership team thinks they can produce magical results within their current constraints -- because they often pull it off.
  6. 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.

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Susan Nunziata   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/27/2013 2:47:28 PM
Re: CIO and CMO: Working together
@tekedge: I agree. Since this kind of collaboration and cooperation seems so obvously benefitical to all parties, I struggle to understand why it's still so difficult to achieve in many organizations.

i suspect that the enterprise that emerge at the top of their class in the next 10 years will have organizations in which CIO and marketing are closely aligned and cooperating constantly. Those that fail to do so will be left behind.
shehan   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/17/2013 10:54:58 PM
Re: unlikely bedfellows
I think this should take place in any organization. The CIO and CMO should have the mutual understanding in their needs in order to achieve the organizations targets.
tekedge   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/15/2013 3:55:59 PM
CIO and CMO: Working together
Unless this collaboration happens the results will never be 100% successful. Both have roles which are overlapping and one needs the other to be succesful and unless they work together they are not going to have optimum output. They have to get used to the change. This change is here to stay and the faster they accept it the better it will be for the organisation!
The_Phil   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/12/2013 8:16:25 PM
Re: spending more
"...everything is an opportunity, never a roadblock..."

This is absolutely true. A wise person once said "Opportunities don't go away, they go to someone else". That positive mindset is what will allow some Chiefs to make it through their day to day compared to other's that will struggle the whole way through.
Susan Nunziata   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/12/2013 3:11:33 PM
Re: slow
@Soozyg: Exactly. And sometimes it requires a  natural curiosity on the part of the people looking at the data. I think the biggest mistake we make is pre-supposing what we want to learn from the data, instead of being open to new findings we may learn. Sometimes we don't even know the right questions to be asking until we've had time to play with the data and create various scenarios. Not everyone is wired this way, however, and sometimes companies make decisions based on faulty or incomplete analysis of the data at hand.

soozyg   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/12/2013 3:07:05 PM
Re: slow
@Susan, good point...and as we've discussed many times on E2, it behooves companies to set a marketing/sales goal and then create filters and analytics that help them meet that goal, rather than looking at the data and saying, "Duh."
Susan Nunziata   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/12/2013 3:06:28 PM
Re: Marketing Digital Evoltuion
@impactnow: Yes, and that's why it's imperative that CIOs and CMOs collaborate, because if CMOs are in charge of more IT dollars -- and more decision-making about how technology gets applied int he enteprise -- the CIO could run the risk of becoming irrelevant if he or she doesn't step up and make their knowledge and experience available to guide the strategy.
Susan Nunziata   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/12/2013 3:00:41 PM
Re: spending more
@Sara: Shouldn't the CIO maybe be glad that the CMO is footing the bill for so many IT projects?

I think the issue for many really is that CMOs are spending on IT without necessarily involving the CIO or necessarly putting those dollars toward projects that require the full engagement of the IT team -- and create new jobs for the IT team. For example, CMOs can easily stand up SaaS or cloud-based services and in many cases circumvent IT, or engage with external consultants to meet customer-facing technology needs while leaving IT out of the loop altogether.
Susan Nunziata   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/12/2013 2:57:05 PM
Re: unlikely bedfellows
@Sara: I think that observation applies to just about every professional relationship we create. Empathy and compassion build much stronger bridges between humans than purely business focus can ever do.
Susan Nunziata   CIO & CMO: Working Together   11/12/2013 2:50:20 PM
Re: slow
@soozyg: Great question. My understanding from conversations I've had with CIO, CMOs and others, the greatest challenge is that the volume of information is so vast that it's exceeded anyone's expectations, and there's a lack of data scientiests and analysts with the skills needed to help ferret out the actionable insights from the data.


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