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Does the rise of the CMO threaten CIOs?

Jeff Vance | Oct. 24, 2012
Investments in IT have long been the domain of the CIO, but all of that is changing as CMOs increasingly make IT investments in this cloud and data-driven age. Many times these investments are ones IT didn't approve and doesn't even know about.

Bridging the IT-Marketing Divide

As CMOs navigate the cloud and marketing automation, they should take a step back and realize that CIOs are really in a tough position. If a cloud system outside of IT's knowledge is hacked and the organization suffers a data breach, IP theft or picks up malware that slips its way inside the firewall, IT will be largely responsible for cleaning up the mess--and IT may get stuck with the blame.

Conversely, CIOs should realize that marketing isn't intentionally putting the organization at risk. They're just trying to do their jobs effectively. This should be a familiar tune to CIOs by now. Employees who brought Wi-Fi, USB drives, smartphones, tablets and cloud storage in through the backdoor weren't trying to be malicious. They were simply trying to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

[Column: Can We Get A CIO-CMO Do-Over?]

CIOs obviously need to come to terms with the implications of having volumes of data outside of their DMZ, but they should also consider that they would be more productive serving as guides, not roadblocks.

"The problem is only going to get worse," says Sonal Puri, vice president of sales and marketing at Aryaka Networks, a cloud-based WAN optimization startup. "For our organization, the desktop isn't really that important anymore. Our most important tools are in the cloud."

CIOs should be proactive about this, training their teams on cloud and SaaS tools so that they can provide guidance. "Consider as an example that some marketing automation tools integrate very well with certain CRM solutions and others not so much," said Richard April, vice president of marketing at AG Salesworks, a B2B teleprospecting and marketing services firm. "Even with cloud-based solutions there are still technical considerations that need to be taken into account and that should fall under the purview of the CIO."

To bridge the CIO-CMO divide, Hambelton of Neolane recommends that CMOs devote more time to process discipline, which is essential to the successful deployment and management of technology. And on the flip side: "CIOs should learn that the customer experience is non-negotiable," she says.

Customer Service Is the Common Ground

That points to common ground where organization would benefit from more CMO-CIO collaboration: customer service. In today's hyper-connected world, bad customer service can sink even the best run company, while good customer service is easy for customers to overlook.

"In every communication you have with a customer, you should look for an opportunity to engage them," said Lisa Dreher, vice president of marketing for Logicalis, a managed service provider.

Endless phone mazes don't cut it, nor does a sales pitch during a service call. In fact, in the social-media age, the back-end of the customer lifecycle, customer service, could serve as the foundation for the beginning of the cycle for another customer. Of course, this has always been the case with word-of-mouth recommendations, but today word-of-mouth happens instantly and has far greater reach.


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