10 Ways to Bridge the CMO-CIO Gap to Drive Business Growth

Marketers in every industry are facing a challenge: They need to drive business results effectively and efficiently, using data-derived insights to inform their marketing strategy.

To do that, as a CMO or marketing manager you and your team need to work in tandem with other departments in the company—particularly the chief information officer (CIO) and the IT team—to ensure that marketing programs and campaigns achieve their intended results.

Follow these 10 steps to transform your team into a juggernaut of marketing success.

10. Show your team why data matters

From Finance to Sales and Operations, today’s companies are data-driven. Retailers use marketing optimization to identify ideal customers, while lawyers use data aggregation software to prepare for major upcoming cases.

Marketers, too, need high-quality data to execute successful campaigns. By educating your colleagues about the critical business roles filled by data insights, you’ll encourage them to actively help build an environment powered by analytics.

9. Foster a collaborative CMO-CIO relationship

Only half of CMOs and CIOs collaborate on joint projects, Forrester Research reports. Meanwhile, only 46% of marketing leaders and 51% of technology leaders have shared views about the ways customers interact with company touch points. According to Forrester’s analysts, an essential part of establishing a competitive advantage in any field is cooperation between marketing and IT teams.

8. Avoid silos at all costs

When business success hinges on marketing and technology departments working together, one objective becomes clear: Internal silos must be dismantled.

Start inquiring into the habits and processes your marketing and IT colleagues tend to follow. If you recognize open opportunities for the two to collaborate, raise them within the company and make actionable suggestions to help them get started.

To get their attention, let them know the success of the business is at stake.

7. Establish goals that every team can support

If your company suffers from disparate goals among teams, it’s not alone; that’s a major side effect of those siloed operations that you may have noticed.

Marketers should meet with IT teams and outline goals that benefit both departments. For example, before requesting a new data solution that will help inform marketing campaigns, consider how the technology will affect IT costs, complexities, and risks.

Frame every conversation around your business as whole, and you’ll take another step toward a symbiotic relationship between marketing, IT, and the rest of your company.

6. Measure progress incrementally

Once marketing and IT goals align and teams begin working together, it’s time to measure progress; but, first, you’ll need to create a system that will allow that to happen. Any time one of your teams begins a new project, outline benchmarks that help prove value every step of the way. From the early stages to the ultimate results, the best way to advocate for your team’s efforts (and budget) is to prove value.

5. Make sure marketers know how to speak IT

At times, it can feel as of marketing and IT folks hail from different planets. Marketers love marketing ROI and results; IT expertise shines during intricate processes and through granular details.

To ensure both groups collaborate productively, both will need to adapt their communication styles and get familiar with one another’s daily work.

When CMOs spend time with IT staff, they learn more about technical challenges, requirements, and the very motivation that drives IT functions. That knowledge can be critical when it comes time to present a new initiative in a way that secures the IT team’s —or C-suite’s—buy-in, and it can eventually create the ROI you’re looking for.

4. Keep in touch

CIOs and CMOs should never become strangers to one another, even after a joint project between the teams wraps up. On a daily basis, marketers need to extract insights from the deluge of data every company wades through. IT staff can help, but they’re most successful when they have a clear channel of communication through which they can provide support.

Maybe, for your team, a weekly IT and marketing team meeting will be the most productive option. Maybe it’s a monthly brainstorm, where colleagues pitch new ideas the two groups can focus on, or maybe it’s an online community where real-time communication and knowledge sharing is encouraged.

Even scheduling team-bonding activities led by the CIO and CMO—from trivia nights to karaoke contests—can help teams establish lasting relationships and continue working in tandem.

3. Celebrate group wins

If a CMO-CIO brainstorm leads to a major marketing win, broadcast the news. Recognize specific employees who play integral roles in joint projects, and call out specific challenges that your team went above and beyond to overcome. You’ll foster a spirit of collaboration and strengthen a bond that will continue to prove value as it grows.

2. Keep the rest of the C-suite in the loop

During those celebrations of accomplishments and wins, make sure your entire C-suite knows that companywide success hinges on employee collaboration.

Share a particular challenge that your marketing and IT teams used data insights to overcome at your next company meeting or town hall discussion.

You will highlight the value of your teams, and both the CMO and CIO will be seen as organizational leaders who recognize how to transform data into improvements in the company’s bottom line.

1. Don’t lose track of your original goal

Data isn’t an obstacle for marketers; it’s an enabler. There’s a good chance that some, if not all, of the companies leading your market have grown to their current size and influence due to their ability to process and apply Big Data insights. As a result, to power business success, CMOs and CIOs—and their respective teams—need to work together toward mutual goals, celebrating group wins and maintaining open communication channels.

Whether you’re looking to attract, retain, or personally succeed as a CMO, shared Marketing and IT objectives need to be some of your top priorities.

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