5 Tips On Starting a Killer CIO - CMO Relationship

2014 Marketing Technology Landscape by chiefmartec.com
2014/Jan Marketing Technology Landscape
I love infographics that categorize the capabilities from various software and SaaS companies and depict their logos in the appropriate quadrant. The Marketing Technology Landscape pictured here is all encompassing and includes technologies specific to marketing like SEO and email marketing as well as others that are more technical such as Big Data and Cloud and yet others that have broader applications across the enterprise.

What CIOs and technologists should know is that the sales people from these software firms are targeting CMOs and marketers. The marketers are the users and often the buyers for these technologies while IT is perceived at best a collaborator and often a barrier to these sales and implementations.

But this picture depicts exactly why the CMO - CIO relationship is so important. Buried in every one of these capabilities is a vendor selection exercise that should have business, financial, and technical criteria. More often than not, the selection should include a Proof of Concept (POC) that demonstrates core business needs but also stresses product capability, boundaries, and volumes. In simple terms, does the software do what the sales person says it does, is it easy to implement, and does it have the configurations needed for a successful implementation? (Note, See my older post on top attributes of agile platforms.) More often than not, these capabilities don't operate in isolation and require some form of coordinated work flow and data flow. They may also requires some solutioning because vendor capabilities often overlap, and developing a business process needs to consider what capabilities to leverage from each provider. Finally many SaaS vendors are startups that have to prove out their financial viability and operations, so monitoring the performance of strategic SaaS partners is an important discipline.

Bottom line - The CMO is under pressure to perform and provide both short term and strategic results. They will move ahead without help from IT or other departments if they must but more often than not, would prefer to partner with the CIO if they can provide timely and valuable services.

What can the CIO and CMO do to establish a partnership?

  • Understand goals and drivers - CMOs have to provide leads to sales, improve brand perception, demonstrate revenue from new market segments, and prove a ROI on marketing investments. Strong CIOs like to see reuse out of platforms, prefer automation when integrating solutions, want to move closer to master data models especially around customer data, and must insure that vendors, applications, and data have appropriate security measures. These are not opposing drivers, but it does require some walking in each others shoes to determine how to collaborate and innovate together.

  • Partner on proof of concepts and pilots - There is some common ground between CMOs and CIOs when new solutions are reviewed and selected. Both understand there is an element of risk in the selection and plenty of learning to determine how to align capabilities with business needs. POCs and pilot projects are optimal times to establish cross disciplinary teams and for CIOs and CMOs to work together to define success criteria.

  • Recognize training needs - Marketers are working with more data driven analytical tools. Technologists are still learning how to provide "quick" solutions to marketing challenges while still maintaining data and architecture standards. The CIO and CMO have responsibilities to align their organizations and establishing joint training programs is an important investment in developing skills and culture.

  • Review KPIs rigorously - Marketing needs and technology capabilities are changing rapidly. Establishing Key Performance Indicators is important to align the organization, but they must be updated frequently to adjust for successes, failures, and industry changes. 

  • Align to a big data strategy - The most significant strategic investment the CIO and CMO can work on collaboratively is how to best capture, analyze, and leverage data to gain new business. CIOs and CMOs should develop a data management practice that improves quality, provides targeted analytics, and demonstrates both revenue and operational improvements
Next post will cover POCs and Pilots.


  1. A great article on how to help the CIO/CMO relationship. I published a long article on 10 conversations between the CIO and CMO for 2014 here: http://www.cio2cmo.com/top-10-conversations-cmos-cios-2014/


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.