The Digital Business Dream Team: How the CIO and CMO Collaborate for Success

Go Back to Searchlight Q1 2015

From L to R: Renee Arrington, Sharyn Leaver, Andrew Laudato, Kristen Dearing, Keith Pearson

The chief information officer and the chief marketing officer are the new “power couple” of digital business, and many companies have realized that success depends upon their collaboration. Together, they can create a business technology agenda that helps their companies win and retain customers. But this is a new way of working, and many are finding their way through trial and error.

At Pearson Partners’ Q1 2015 Spotlight Series breakfast, we discussed this new realm of collaboration and pinpointed emerging best practices. Our esteemed panel members included:

  • Kristen Dearing, Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Alliances, Brierley+Partners
  • Andrew Laudato, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Pier 1 Imports
  • Sharyn Leaver, Vice President and Group Director Serving CIOs, Forrester Research

All Eyes on the Customer

At the heart of successful CIO/CMO collaboration is a shared focus on the customer—especially when that mandate comes from the top of the organization. By establishing a common understanding of customers and their relationship with the company, the CIO and CMO can build a strategy that supports a positive customer experience. Working together, they carry more influence within the organization and can achieve many more strategic goals.

An annual Forrester study, in conjunction with Forbes magazine, shows collaborative relationships between CIOs and CMOs building over the last two years. Still, only about 50 percent of companies have CIOs and CMOs strategizing together to define the customer lifecycle, visualize an ideal customer experience, prioritize technology initiatives and create budgets to achieve them.

When the CIO and CMO work closely together, they can build a customer experience that weaves in data security in a non-invasive way to build trust and enhance customer engagement. CMOs should take time to understand where and how data is housed, and how it’s kept safe. And CIOs must shift the focus of the business technology agenda toward winning, serving and retaining customers.

As customers’ expectations grow, it’s increasingly important to know the customer and their technology. What devices do they use, and how do they use technology to buy? Do they write checks, use credit cards or pay via PayPal? What are they buying, and what do they aspire to buy? Marketing and IT initiatives can then be tailored to suit those buying patterns.

Strategy in Action

CMOs and CIOs often must overcome hurdles when learning to work together. For example, marketing typically sets a deadline and works backward to develop a plan to meet it, while IT starts with an estimate and plan before setting a deadline. Both are successful ways to get the work done, and reconciling them is key to collaboration.

As CIOs change their success metrics to measure end customer satisfaction, rather than internal customer satisfaction, they become increasingly connected with CMOs and others who touch the customer. One such valuable metric examines the health of the customer database, or the collecting and cleansing of customer data. Another is the percentage of total marketing spend toward marketing technology used to talk to customers, compared with the cost of administering and running these tools.

Longer term, the CIO and CMO roles are more likely to overlap than to fully merge. Meanwhile, each is gaining more understanding of the other’s concerns, time constraints and priorities—and that’s good for companies as well as their customers.

The Merging of the CIO and CMO

Increasingly, CIOs and CMOs are working together to make decisions about the organization’s technology assets, manage budgets, analyze and predict customer behavior, mitigate risk and ensure the success of digital business efforts. Read more.

Inside the Role of Chief Digital Officer

As the CIO takes on increasing marketing responsibilities while the CMO evolves to be increasingly digital, we are seeing the emergence of a new role, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Our partner, IIC Partners, recently interviewed the CDO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to gain firsthand insight into this enigmatic role. Read more.

Pearson Partners Spotlight Series Breakfast

Save the date for our next Spotlight SeriesSM breakfast event scheduled for June 16. Look for details and invitations in May. Did you miss one of our Spotlight Series events? Check out summaries of past events.

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