5 ways to turn your CIO from biggest barrier to best friend

Opening the lines of communication will help you drive more effective campaigns and better measure results.


You need to do more than keep pace with technology. You need to build your relationship with your CIO and align your priorities as well as your budgets.

Marketing is becoming a finely oiled data-driven discipline, relying on technology for everything from analyzing customer sentiment to measuring campaign effectiveness. To gain a bigger role in driving business strategy, you need to do more than keep pace with technology. You need to build a relationship with your CIO and align your priorities and your budgets.

The good news is that CMOs are recognizing the importance of building a strong relationship with IT. According to a July 2013 Forrester report1, 54 percent of marketing leaders reported a dramatically increased working relationship with IT during the past one to two years.

Establishing a marketing operations team can help bridge the divide between marketing requirements and IT capabilities. "Marketing operations can work closely with IT to translate the marketing organization’s business needs, objectives, and drivers to IT so that, together, they can find a holistic solution," says Eric Johnson, vice president, IT Applications, at Informatica.

Start with these ways to forge a working relationship with your own CIO:

  1. Support spending. According to Gartner2, by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. With your IT purchasing powers on the rise, make sure to work hand-in-hand with IT to champion technology spending and allocate resources for initiatives that have your best interests in mind.
  2. Slow down. If IT resources are stretched, be cautious about undertaking a piecemeal or non-IT-sanctioned approach to new deployments. Rushed installations are likely to lead to problems such as security vulnerabilities or poorly performing applications that will only delay innovation.
  3. Integrate. Silos of data and software can prevent organizations from ensuring data quality and scalability. Join forces with IT to better integrate marketing automation solutions, many of which are now software as a service (SaaS) applications. The resulting systems will be nimble enough to scale as business needs evolve, all the while ensuring greater end-user adoption and trust by providing a single view of the customer.
  4. Communicate. Schedule regular strategic planning meetings with technology leaders and other key executives. A deeper understanding of your marketing objectives and the technical requirements to obtain them will make it easier to establish shared goals and work together to reach them.
  5. Measure. Marketers may manage the creation of a campaign, but IT is often taxed with measuring that initiative’s return on investment.

By establishing shared success metrics for SaaS application operations (from adoption to campaign effectiveness), a CMO and CIO can not only work toward the same goals but also build a strong business case for future technology investments.

In the end, though, there is one thing CMOs and CIOs share: "Everybody’s being pressed to increase ROI,' says Laura Wang, vice president, Marketing Operations, at Informatica. "By uniting forces, marketing and IT can figure out together how best to invest their dollars."

For more about how you can forge a stronger CMO-CIO partnership, check out Forbes' two-part series.

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