CIOs and CMOs suffer from failure to communicate

Tom Kaneshige

Peter Smith (Global) - CIO vs. CMO

At the heart of any good relationship is communication, yet a new study shows that CIOs and CMOs are terrible at it. They're not speaking the same language, bicker about the tech budget and argue over who should take ownership of mobile apps.

These and other insights come courtesy of The CIO-CMO Omnichannel, a study by CIO magazine, EPAM Systems and The CMO Club. The group surveyed more than 400 CIOs and CMOs and conducted one-on-one interviews to better understand how the CIO and CMO work together.

The Digital Customer Comes First
The study's findings are timely, as the traditionally rocky CIO-CMO relationship takes center stage in the age of the digital customer. It's more important than ever that these two executives join forces to identify and reach the digital customer.

Effective, efficient communication depends on both parties having the same understanding about the meaning of certain key words. Sounds simple enough, but this breaks down with technology terms. The CIO-CMO Omnichannel study provides a sampling of words, along with the difference between what the CIO hears and the CMO hears:

Digital Product: For CIOs, this means custom software purpose-built and managed by the CIO's group as a core business capability and deployed to the enterprise. For CMOs, this means boxed software or a purchased (SaaS or PaaS) solution used to accomplish an acute or ongoing business need.

Platform: For CIOs, this means a set of preconfigured software tools that can or must be used to quickly build a digital product, and generally preferable that the platform include the ability to interface with enterprise systems via API/SDK. For CMOs, this means a complete system for supporting a particular need, which may or may not interface with enterprise.

Agile: For CIOs, this means a software development methodology that is highly flexible but also requires deliberately ambiguous definitions of timelines and deliverables. For CMOs, this means a desired state of operations, in which the company can change direction and move rapidly as market conditions change.

Omnichannel: For CIOs, this means systems that are fully integrated, with real-time data flow to and from all end-points, regardless of the location or business. For CMOs, this means a customer experience that is consistent and appropriate across every touchpoint in every location.

Battling for Dollars
The battle over the tech budget has also harmed the CIO-CMO relationship. There's no question more of a CMO's budget is being allocated for tech in areas such as cloud-based digital marketing software, customer analytics and social media. Communication troubles crop up because 68 percent of CMOs believe a boost in their tech spend will come at the expense of the CIO's budget, meaning budget power is shifting away from the CIO to the CMO.

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