Tuesday of this week, I participated in the annual CIO Executive Leadership Summit held in Greenwich, CT. This year’s focus was “Game-Changing Leadership Strategies & Business Models for Market Advantage.” (Note: I’m Chairman Emeritus of the regional chapter of SIM, which sponsors the meeting.)
I led a session on the relationship between the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). The two guest panelists were the successful team at Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide of Yuri Aguiar, Senior Partner & CIO, and Lauren Crampsie, Worldwide Chief Marketing Officer.
For many in the audience – mostly technology leaders in their organizations – there was a bit of unease about the growing role of the CMO in technology decisions.
Part of that unease is driven by headlines such as these:
- From August of this year, “CMOs, Not CIOs, Now Control 11 Percent Of Retail IT Spending”, which highlighted this statement: “they’re [CMOs] buying and running hardware, not just paying for software and services without IT’s OK.”
- From Forbes Magazine, last year, “Five Years From Now, CMOs Will Spend More on IT Than CIOs Do”
While trend varies and every organization has a different mix of reasons for giving the CMO this new role, the common causes are:
- CIOs who focus just on the back-office operations – merely “keeping the trains running on time” – and shy away from playing a more strategic executive role.
- CIOs who spend most of their money on maintenance and thus fail to deliver new technology solutions that are needed by others in the company.
- CIOs who are less familiar with the newer technologies, such as social media, data analytics, mobile software design, marketing technology, etc., thus forcing the CMOs to look elsewhere for what they need.
So the tensions between CIOs and CMOs have revolved around who gets to spend the money and who gets to control and enforce technology standards.
With this background, it was a pleasure to hear a CIO and CMO who have learned to team with each other. Their experience has lessons for many other CIOs and CMOs.
They start out as equals, both reporting to the CEO, yet they have clearly developed a mutual respect and a relationship built on intense communications – and a willingness to see things from the other person’s viewpoint.
Then together, these two present capital budget requests for new technologies that will help Ogilvy to grow its business.
Lauren pointed out the various ways that Yuri had taught her about technology. But the learning went in the other direction too. With the increased importance of user experience in a world dominated by the consumerization of technology, CIOs can learn from their colleagues who specialize in creating positive user experiences – the CMOs.
Together the relationship can be not a source of tension, but of mutual advancement for both the CIO and CMO – and, of course, for the company as a whole.
© 2013 Norman Jacknis