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That CMO/CIO collaboration thing isn't working out

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan August 28, 2013
Gartner says the CMO is going to take on IT decision making powers, but Accenture's found that the marketers and the IT people aren't collaborating enough to make this work.

The meme that CMOs will become the dominant IT decision makers and influencers by 2015 has been given enormous airtime by research giant Gartner.

It's divided opinion among IT industry leaders. Over at, Marc Benioff backs the idea, making it a key component of his Customer Company pitch; over at Infor, Charles Phillips quietly suggests that most CMOs are lucky still to be in the job they've already got!

The truth of course probably lies somewhere in between the two points of view and that's what comes out from a new study from Accenture  - The CMO-CIO Disconnect: Bridging the Gap to Seize the Digital Opportunity .

This detects increased CMO involvement, but also signs of tension as 90% of respondents state that collaboration between the IT and marketing camps is nowhere near what it needs to be.

Divided lines

What's particularly interesting though is that the CIO side of the organization is more open to forging closer working relationships with their CMO colleagues than the other way around.

Some 77% of CIOs believe that CIO/CMO alignment is important compared with only 57% of CMOs.

That said, the IT team aren't exactly taking the need to support marketing particularly seriously with on 45% of CIOs citing this as a top priority.

Other divisions of note include:

  • CIOs believe the main reason to work with CMOs is to improve customer experiences.
  • CMOs believe the main reason to work with CIOs is to gain customer insights.
  • Over a third (36%) of CMOs don't reckon the IT deliverables served up to them fall short of what is required
  • 46% of CIOs claim marketing doesn't provide enough detail to enable IT to meet business requirements.
  • A large majority of CIOs (61%) feels their companies are prepared for the digital future.
  • Only 49% of CMOs feel the same.
  • The top concern of CMOs (43%) is insufficient funding for digital marketing channels.
  • The top concerns of CIOs (50%) are solution complexity and integration difficulties.
  • Globally, 77% of CIOs agree they need to be aligned with CMOs
  • Globally, 56% of CMOs feel this way about CIOs.
  • Some 45% of CMOs say they want to enable their employees to access and use data and content without IT intervention.
  • Some 49% of CIOs reject that and complain that marketing pulls in technologies without consideration for IT standards.
  • Some 30% of CIOs want to further the use of social media and online listening and contact systems.
  • Only 24% of CMOs want to do this.
  • Some 26% of CIOs want to introduce closed-loop campaign measurement and tracking capabilities.
  • Only 19% of CMOs want to do this.


Need for Marketing/IT alignment (%)

What to do?

The Accenture study concludes:

Essentially, CMOs view the CIO organization as an execution and delivery arm, not as a driver of marketing strategy and excellence and a partner to be considered on equal footing.

CMOs expect much quicker turnaround and higher quality from IT, with a greater degree of flexibility in responding to market requirements.

Harping back to those Gartner predictions, the Accenture study observes that CMOs regard digital orientation as their weakest capability at a time when it needs to be their strongest:

To overcome this gap and infuse a digital focus in all business processes and functions, there is no more important a function for marketing to align with than information technology.

Despite their growing understanding that they must be more closely aligned, CMOs and CIOs have a trust issue. Both functions focus on building other C-suite relationships before investing in the marketing-IT relationship.

As a result, the two functions are disconnected in how technology should support and enable improved marketing performance.

What they need of course - and you can probably work out where we're going here - is some top notch management consultancy services to broker and build the relationships needed.

We'll take the sales pitch as read.

But Accenture does offer up five interesting recommendations to improve alignment:

(1)  Identify the CMO as the chief experience officer (CXO).

Accenture says:

CMOs must take responsibility for the consumer experience and drive consumer-centric measures. CIOs and other members of the C-suite should be jointly responsible for driving business outcomes from effective experiences and for building closer relationships with CMOs in the process.

(2) Accept IT as a strategic partner with marketing, not just as a platform provider.

Accenture says:

When planning new marketing investments, marketers should not view IT as just a delivery platform. Both functions should work together to understand what systemic changes in their operating model need to occur to allow them to take advantage of new technologies rapidly while reducing cost and complexity.

(3) Agree on key business levers for marketing and IT alignment, such as access to customer data vs. privacy and security.

Accenture says:

To harness the power of technology and analytics, CIOs and CMOs and their C-suite colleagues need to be laser-focused on crafting the most relevant consumer experiences. Sitting within their own silos with independent perspectives will only continue the downward trend in business success.

(4) Change the skill mix to ensure that both organizations are more marketing- and tech-savvy.

Accenture says:

CMOs should empower their teams to drive technology decisions and become savvy about digital technology architecture, collaborating with their technology counterparts to serve the demands of the digital age.

(5) Develop trust by doing just that—trusting.

Accenture says:

The only way to build trust is just to do it. Successful marketing depends on it.



Marketing IT vs. IT priorities (%)

The study findings are based on the 2012 Accenture Interactive CMO-CIO Insights survey of more than 400 senior marketing executives and 250 senior IT executives across 10 countries.


Disclosure: at time of writing, is a premium partner of diginomica.

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