In an age when big data and online media platforms dominate marketing strategies, the discussion surrounding the relationship between the chief marketing officer and chief information officer continues to grow. As big data gets even bigger, it is imperative – now more than ever – that the CMO/CIO relationship run cooperatively and effectively. Although the topic has been hot on the table for some time now, what has been missing is a sense of urgency. Big data is no new thing; social media is no new thing; content marketing – though still relatively new – is really no new thing. So what's the hold up?
Drowning in data
To start, there has never been more data available for marketers to run amuck with. According to a 2013 study by the CMO Council, about 2.5 exabytes of data are created each day. In layman's terms, that's one billion gigabytes. Another statistic in the study states that the volume of business data worldwide, across all companies, doubles every 1.2 years.
This data overload can lead to what the CMO Council refers to as "analysis paralysis" for marketers – decision-making becomes more difficult as the feeling that even more data is needed grows. Amidst the overwhelm, however, one thing remains clear: All strategies and programs should be focused around the needs of the customer, and the needs of the customer can be derived from – you guessed it – data. The CMO Council study showed that both the CMO and CIO do see data as the key to success, but collaboration can be difficult.
Blurred lines are a good thing
With the spread of more and more social media social engagement sites and the insane growth of social media and content marketing, the CMO and CIO need to align strategies and spend in an unprecedented way. They need to focus on the needs of the customer and on the data that will help them identify those needs. It's like cross-pollination: the two departments bleed together to form a new hybrid where marketers create strategies and IT develops platforms that will power them.
Marketers need to have digital skills, know their way around Internet platforms and be more tech-savvy than they used to be, while tech guys need to have an understanding of these platforms that reached beyond merely how they function: Why do they function and what purpose do they serve?
Tension arises whenever money is involved, and where the two departments tend to butt heads is when it comes to budgeting. To bridge the gap between CMO and CIO roles, the two departments need to remember their objective: giving customers what they want. With customer centricity as the core value, both departments can focus on the big data that powers the customer-focused experience.
The first step in creating better CMO-CIO alignment is recognizing the scope of the problem. Forbes contributor Lisa Arthur stressed the importance of finding common ground. Both departments want to drive new business and when they work together, any strategy they employ will be more effective. Arthur also suggested prioritizing projects so the two teams can plan strategies together, as opposed to under different timetables.
The most important aspect of the CMO-CIO relationship will be the ongoing conversation. Digital marketing continues to grow and new platforms are constantly emerging, so the need for open, clear communication between departments will be increasingly important. With good foresight, collaborative thinking and innovative partnerships, the results of strong CMO-CIO teamwork will make all the difference between businesses that flourish and those that sink ship.