How CMOs And CIOs Can Better Collaborate
With new technology infiltrating marketing almost every day, CMOs and CIOs need to mingle now more than ever before--and not just in relation to big data. Traditionally, CIOs have been the IT-buying star players, but as CMOs make their way from rookies to MVPs, they’ll need to learn a thing or two about technology and how it impacts their businesses if they want to gain purchasing power.
When it comes to purchasing decisions, CMOs are adept at answering the question: “Is this a good piece of software or technology for marketing?” And CIOs are adept at answering the question: “Does this fit with what the organization cares or is thinking about?” Each answer is important to the company’s overall bottom line, but how each role comes to that decision is vastly different.
So I’ve developed three tips that I’ve recommended to my marketing team to help with IT purchases:
1. Leverage Everyone’s Strengths
The first step to a good tech partnership is understanding where everyone’s strengths lie—and using them together toward stellar IT purchases.
Since CMOs know what they need to achieve, they’re in the best position to decide whether a piece of software or product fits their needs--and if it’s usable enough to pass muster. They’re best at answering questions such as whether the user interface is simple and streamlined or whether the product is easy to troubleshoot.
CIOs, on the other hand, tend to have a bigger-picture view on the direction of the software—where a particular software company is heading, and what a particular type of software will accomplish. They’re also in the position to understand how a product will run within the company’s broader IT infrastructure and how it will fit with the company’s IT products down the road.
Obviously, these two strengths are very different. Putting them together, you'll get the best product for marketing needs in the moment, as well as the best fit for the whole organization’s needs down the line.
2. Build A Stellar Support Team
If you’re bringing the CIO into the conversation at key consideration points, that’s great. But it’s just as important to make the IT team your ongoing partner.
This boils down to having team members and joint procedures set up in advance, such as knowing who to call on, and how, in case an IT disaster strikes. It also means knowing who in the organization can help you think through technical considerations on purchases and implementations and having a strong enough rapport with that person to seek out advice freely.
Last but not least, it means having someone who can provide technical support on your products beyond implementation. Being tied to an external vendor that helped during a product launch but won’t be around to help with troubleshooting on a day-to-day basis can cause nightmares. By engaging with someone internal, you’ll be able to guide the conversation on your own terms.
3. Understand Security And Legal Requirements
CMOs also need to consider security. Think about it this way: Whether you’re sharing information within your team, gathering information about your customers via your Web site, or engaging with a third-party analytics provider, the marketing team controls some of the most powerful information within the organization.
That information obviously carries huge implications, both from a customer relations perspective and from a legal one. Whatever you do, make sure your new product complies with IT security policies on both the customer and internal sides. And make sure you understand the types of data that you store and the legal requirements that go along with them.
Your IT team can help you double-check the legal requirements around data, too. That’s important in all companies, but it’s especially so in public companies that have more data and tech compliance issues (such as SOX).
Bottom Line: A Partnership Is Key
At the end of the day, CIOs essentially have two roles: first, making sure everything is working correctly on the back-end, and secondly, making sure the users actually want the piece of technology.
When end users come to CIOs asking for a piece of software, that’s only half the job. No longer are they the CIOs gatekeepers to technology. Their other half, CMOs, now have ranking power.
As a result, a partnership between the two is ideal. In fact, most CIOs would welcome their CMOs' input to vet new technical products. (I know I would.) It’s all a matter of leveraging the marketing-IT partnership in the way that plays to everyone’s strengths.