Why CIOs Should Care About CMOs

I spent yesterday out in Colorado at the Evanta CIO Summit – this is a forum put on by CIOs for CIOs and boasts a very strong attendee list. The topic I was discussing was not really much to do with Cloud, or Big Data. It was about the developing relationship between CIOs and CMOs. And it wasn’t your typical presentation either. It was really a chat driven by Thornton May, one of our Big Data friends (he opened our very first Data Science Summit).

In usual Thornton fashion, he opened the session by dishing out some homework to the crowd: “What word or visual comes to mind when you think of the CMO?”  What came back? Overwhelmingly, “Brand.”  And so he proceeded to ask me why CIOs should now care about CMOs when all they know of the CMO is “Brand?” Great question. After all, there is no IT system associated with ‘brand.’

The answer to this opening question lies in the future, not the past. The CMO has been the purveyor of the brand in the past – and arguably still is today – but the CMO in the future will be THE vehicle by which the company interacts with the customer base on a daily basis. The three biggest trends in IT – cloud, mobile and social – are driving this.

Marketers used to spend months building campaigns, spend millions buying lists then spend months figuring out whether what they were doing actually worked.  Today, marketers can build online campaigns, drive interaction in social communities, provide content directly to personal devices like iPhones and iPads and ‘listen’ intently to the reaction of their prospective targets.  The cycle times are an order of magnitude less, and the feedback an order of magnitude more accurate.

At the heart of this new world is one thing – data. There will be those who simply collect data, and those who analyze, drive insight and take action on data. The latter will be the marketers that keep their jobs and really unlock the potential of the new world.  Which brings us back to Thorton’s question – why should CIOs now care about CMOs?  Because CMO’s hold the key to knowledge about the customer – understanding what the customer is doing, thinking, interacting with and asking – right now… not just ‘what they’ve bought in the past.’  Exciting times.

About the Author: Jeremy Burton