Indian CIOs deny any CIO-CMO conflict exists

Sneha Jha

A CIO and a CMO role should complement each other on the digital strategy for any organization.

Ajay Kumar Meher, senior VP and head-IT and Post Production at Sony Entertainment Television refutes that the two executives have conflicting agendas. "CIO and CMO have a clear demarcation of their responsibilities. While the CMO understands the marketing mix better and see how and where any marketing initiative will have larger impact, the CIO understands the various digital technology platform and suggest the CMO on the usage of various platforms to have a larger reach," he says.

Meher underlines that "marketing is the customer of technology" in this journey and that keeps the relationship professional.

The CMO and CIO are allies in the digital evolution of an enterprise. "They are already working in unison. How can there be a divide?" says Sunil Mehta, senior VP and area systems director (Central Asia), JWT.

He lays out a four pronged approach to achieve this. Internal communication, trust building, knowledge sharing, and transparency enhancing practices are his mantras. "Only when the CMO shares his vision with the CIO, the CIO can enable it. They can't be working in silos to fructify their vision of a digital enterprise," he says.

Mehta also recommends that the CIO should understand the ground realities of their business. This will be a wakeup call for the CIOs

In most companies the CIO and CMO are working in unison to unleash the full potential of digital initiatives. At Idea Cellular, the CIO and CMO are wedded to the digital platform. "Today all marketers are looking at digital platforms to enhance customer experience and connect. The CIOs is going to be the enablers of this strategy. If there is a disconnect, it could be more to do with the pace at which the CMO wants to deploy a digital initiative and the speed at which the CIO is able to do it," says Sashi Shankar, CMO, Idea Cellular. 

The common denominator is the awareness that communication can iron out the differences.

But in the midst of all the talk about CIO-CMO digital disconnect, there is a CIO who is uniquely qualified to handle the role of a CMO. Yateen Chodnekar, group CIO, Writer's Corporation also heads the marketing function for the organization.

He believes that when a CIO gets involved in the digital marketing spending, it brings in new degree of rationalization and sensible spending.

"Marketing function is in a period of great change. CMO's skills and competency requirements have changed in the last decade. Today, technical expertise is more important than agency experience for CMOs. This is a huge testament to the growing realization that modern marketing is a technology-driven discipline," he underscores.

As Shankar puts it, "Working together has never been more important for the CIO and the CMO."

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