The CIO and CMO Partnership

Much has been said about the critical need for the CMO and CIO community to work towards a more effective partnership. Yesterday at the CIO Executive Summit in Dallas, Suzanne Kosub – CIO at Concentra – closed the event by underscoring this point. She described the traditional CIO relationship alignment, which in most cases was with the CFO and in some cases the CEO. But the many disruptive forces affecting us today are driving the imperative for the CIO to partner more effectively with the CMO. At an upcoming CIO Summit in New Jersey, I will moderate a panel discussion with three CIO/CMO teams to explore this subject further. How do these executives overcome the relationship challenges of the past? There are many perspectives on this topic, including this recent Forrester piece that proposes the creation of a Marketing Technology Office (MTO). The MTO is a center of excellence that leads technology strategy, develops marketing technologies and evangelizes innovations throughout the marketing department.

In this scenario, the CIO would relinquish control of certain customer-facing technologies and hand responsibility for the function over to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Rubbermaid is an example of a company that has created such a function. Their MTO function reports to the CMO, not the CIO, and the only CIO relationship with the department is to ensure that it is complying with the company’s defined IT standards and processes. Other models are emerging, many of which disrupt the current CIO structure. At this same CIO Summit, I heard several approaches described:

  • IT application resources aligned with the business versus the CIO
  • Creation of new innovation groups that combine business and technology resources
  • The emergence of the Chief Digital Officer
  • A model that categorizes IT into three buckets: Enterprise, Local and Federated – and then organizes accordingly

Regardless of the model, it is growing clearer that change is coming. The interesting question for me is: are we witnessing another swing of the pendulum, or are we seeing lasting change to long standing operating models? My bet is that the impact and rate of change is a forcing function and there is no turning back. I’d be interested in your examples of emerging models.

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