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Are CIOs destined to work for the CMO?

Paul Rubens | Oct. 8, 2013
As marketing departments becoming more reliant on technology, a strong relationship with the CMO will be necessary for the survival of CIOs. In fact, don't be surprised to see CEOs siding marketing when there's a conflict.

Within the next few years many CIOs will find that effectively they work for their chief marketing officer (CMO), and their IT department will have become little more than the technology arm of the marketing department.

That's the view of Larry Weber, chairman and CEO of the W2 Group (a marketing services company), founder of The Weber Group public relations company, and a noted speaker and author.

"There will still be all the traditional boring stuff of IT, so the CIO will still have a job," says Weber. "But ultimately I don't see the CIO long term being as important as the CMO — or whatever the CMO is called in the future," he adds.

Weber says that one of the CIO's key jobs will be to help the CMO select the best marketing automation platforms and software and integrate them with other corporate systems.

'Cultural Shift' in Tech
CIOs will find this type of co-operation different from the independent way that they have operated in the past, he says.

"This is quite a cultural shift, because traditionally the IT department is physically far from the marketing department, the IT staff dress differently to marketing staff, and there is no communication between technology people and marketing people. But that is how the CIO is going to have to evolve. "

"There is bound to be inherent conflict, and that's where the CEO comes in,. But I think that, in most cases, he will side with the marketing people." — Larry Weber, chairman and CEO of the W2 Group

What's driving the change is that instead of traditional advertising, it's social media, big data and analytics that will be the key tools that marketers use to reach customers and give them the best experience possible.

"So now the marketing department is reliant on technology, and the CMO has to say 'help me out here. We need to get together to get the right software. I don't want to learn technology, I just need it to work,'" Weber says.

CIOs Need to Get Marketing Savvy
It's not only the CIO who will have to learn to adapt, Weber says: The CMO will also have to change to prepare for his brave new world of technology driven marketing. "What we will need is more tech savvy CMOs and more marketing savvy CIOs."

That means that within five years the two roles will have blurred and become less distinct and there will be new roles with new titles as well: "Communities Manager," "VP of Content," "VP of Social Media" and "VP of Customer Experience" are a few that Weber suggests.

But despite Weber's prediction that the CIO's role will be reduced to that of technology advisor to the marketing department, there will still be plenty of what he referred to earlier as "the traditional boring stuff." And that includes many IT considerations that have vital consequences for the business, such as security and compliance.


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