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Why CIOs and CMOs must run side by side

Tom Kaneshige | Nov. 26, 2014
CMOs want to move fast with digital technology to grab revenue opportunities, but the CIO needs to be onboard with any deals from the beginning in order to address technical complexities that can leave marketing executives reeling.

cmo frustration
Credit: Thinkstock

If a CMO signs contracts with ad networks and tag management vendors that collect user data, essentially giving third-parties access to the company website, the CIO had better be involved. When the site slows down or online customers start receiving sales-killing content warnings or security gaps widen, the CMO will be lost and confused in the Tower of techno-Babel.

It takes a CIO to see the underlying problems and make the right fixes.

Few know this better than Ghostery, maker of a popular consumer desktop plug-in that shows which companies are collecting data. Ghostery has recently jumped into the enterprise space with a similar tool showing the ecosystem of third-parties collecting data on a company's website -- an ecosystem that can get terribly convoluted and lead to numerous performance issues.

Most CMOs will shake their heads at the ecosystem map that Ghostery's marketing cloud management tool delivers.

This is why CMOs need a CIO.(Click to enlarge.)

The CIO, on the other hand, is familiar with this kind of complexity and will be able to spot the problem, call up the service-level agreement associated with the tag management vendor, point to the violation in, say, latency, security or limits on the number of partners able to access the site, and ensure that the vendor gets back into compliance. Other times, the problem might stem from the company's own website, not the third-party vendor. And so the CIO might have to address an architectural issue.

Either way, chances are the technical problem will be over the CMO's head.

CIO and CMO Must Find Common Ground
"This shows how important it is for CMOs and CIOs to work together," says Ghostery CEO Scott Meyer.

Ghostery's ecosystem map is a prime example of critical, common ground -- that is, the company website -- where the CIO and CMO need to be in lockstep. CMOs want to move quickly to capture revenue opportunities with these third-parties, yet the CIO needs to be onboard from the beginning in order to fix problems quickly.

By working together from the get-go, CMOs and CIOs can get out in front of technical problems that threaten to derail the company's prized asset, its website.

In this vein, Forrester advises CIOs and CMOs: "Put guardrails in place that clarify acceptable project scope, cost, and business impact to keep projects manageable and relevant, limiting projects to those that map to corporate or divisional growth projections or those with a business case that can prove a margin-positive return on investment within a two-year time frame."


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