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The CIO and CMO: Strange but Critical Bed Fellows

By: ASPE President David Mantica

Chris Murphy’s article “15 New Rules for IT to Live By”, featured in InformationWeek, addresses a critical change that needs to happen within organizations for IT to maintain relevance. While “Make the CMO IT’s new BFF” is number 12 on Chris’ list, I see it as number one.

Why is alignment between the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief IT Officer my number one rule for IT organizations to follow? There are two different dynamics at work. The first is the minimization of IT plumbing dynamic.

Between 1980 and 2002, IT plumbing drove competitive advantage. IT plumbing included remote access, e-commerce, security, networked systems, web site enablement, web application enablement, and all of the business tools needed in addition to this plumbing. During 2002, the trend started leaning more towards Web 2.0. This included software/services/servers as a service, virtualization, internet-enabled marketing, big data, and social media. Plumbing was becoming a commodity while driving services, capabilities, and tools became the competitive advantage.

The second dynamic at work is business enabled IT.

Business enabled IT is basically defined as a business having the knowledge and firepower to drive their own IT initiatives. Firepower in this case refers to consumer devices and cloud applications. You need collaboration? We don’t need IT, we will start up a SharePoint site. You need analytics around your web and social activities? We don’t need IT, we will turn on Google Analytics. You need instant access to your data? We don’t need IT, I will bring my iPad. You get the picture.

The way marketing is transforming has made the dynamic of business enabled IT very evident. Marketing, once known as the land of “Mad Men,” created concepts and bought media to push those concepts out. Marketing is now a land of creating content, appropriately positioning it electronically, and monitoring how consumers grab it. The major difference between the two is huge disruption.

The issue with the dynamic business enabled IT is that the CMO/VP of Marketing may be unaware that internet marketing is the future. Companies need to be competitive in the sphere of internet marketing, but to be successful, the VP needs to know how to drive, monitor, budget, manage, and succeed with that business initiative. This is the point where the CIO and her team would step in and help.

A CIO (Chief Information Officer) understands the technologies behind the new marketing world and can bring understanding to the department. She/he also brings the talent to support the marketing team with process, review, and analysis of the data which comes out of internet marketing success.

In reality, a CIO can become more beneficial to the entire enterprise when he/she focuses on supporting the transformation of marketing. While they will have to deal with consumer tools and applications as well as some “arrogance” for those who already have skills in the internet arena, he/she can also bring much more to the table and transform the entire enterprise.

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