What's the CIO's role as marketing builds its digital empire?

Elizabeth Heichler

The corporate landscape captured in marketing guru Larry Weber's new book, "The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric," is one where the CMO might be seen as increasingly moving onto the CIO's traditional turf. Weber sat down with IDG News Service recently to talk about how that relationship can work in the successful digital enterprise.

Your new book, "The Digital Marketer," lays out a set of best practices for that discipline. What's the division of labor between CIOs and CMOs at companies that are doing it well?
Thirty-some years ago, IT and marketing couldn't be further apart. Physically, people looked different, they dressed different. Now, you go into a company, and what's happened is that underneath the CIO, IT is separating into two different groups. One of those groups I would call more internal or infrastructure technologies like the cloud, energy monitoring, security. That should report to some kind of a technology officer. The other part of the bifurcation is this mushroom of software that is flooding the market for customer-centric purposes. Every company that succeeds in the future is one that focuses on the customer experience. So who better than a chief marketing officer, or chief customer officer, to now actually oversee this integration of software and human thinking for the benefit of connecting with customers in a more effective way?

So, it's not saying 'CIOs, you're losing something,' it's that, you've got to come a little this way, to understand the technologies that are available for the marketer to use, and the marketer has to understand the basics of coding, of development, of how you make websites and Web destinations richer and better, because ultimately, it all comes down to creating great digital environments. But the CMO has taken over so much more of an information role, because of the data and the analytics. IT and CIOs were not trained in data and analytics — that's not saying they couldn't do it.

What should the CMO cede to the CIO, if the CIO is going to cede this whole stack of marketing software to the CMO?
I think there has to be an effort, not to be political and try to control the CIO's stuff, but there has to be a joint learning. You, CIO, have to tell me that these software companies are of quality, what are the questions I should ask before we buy that kind of software, what kind of costs are we getting in for on a long-term basis? Also, is this data going to be secure? Where are the investments we've already made as a company in things that I should be aware of as we start being a major purchaser of marketing automation and different flavors of cloud?

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