Cats and dogs may be natural enemies, but the CIO and the CMO don’t have to be. And they shouldn’t be, if a company is going to thrive in today’s market. They need to work together with a blended perspective, says Chris Miller, CIO of Avanade, in order to deliver the kind of customer-centric innovation that is essential to success.
With the rise of technology as a strategic focus and with businesses becoming more digital, successful organizations are redesigning the way they work and collaborate. That makes the CIO-CMO relationship more important than ever, according to Avanade CIO Chris Miller.
Miller has been CIO of Avanade since 2010, but spent a decade and a half before that at Accenture, where he oversaw a massive initiative to enable 180,000 global employees with advanced collaboration capabilities.
Clearly, technology budgets and control are moving outside of the traditional IT department. “Thirty-seven percent of technology spending is now controlled by departments other than IT, according to a survey of enterprises by our company,” Miller says. “One of those other departments is marketing.”
With trends like these bringing the worlds of technology and marketing closer together, the roles are changing for IT and marketing leaders. As CMOs manage their brand, they also have to coordinate multiple interactions with today’s “always on” customer. These customers expect more, and the way that businesses respond could be the new competitive differentiator.
At the same time, CIOs must manage technology that is capable of significant innovation. But whose role is it to drive customer-centric innovation?
Today, it is the common, but separate responsibilities of both the CMO and the CIO. That needs to change, Miller says.
“To succeed in the new digital landscape, marketing and IT must partner and find a common point of view. We call it the Chief Information Marketing Officer (CIMO) Perspective,” he explains.
Yes, CMOs and CIOs have individual expertise and experience. However, to adopt the CIMO Perspective, Miller insists, they must share a unified digital vision. This allows their organization to harness the combined power of marketing and IT to deliver better digitally enabled experiences for their customers and other key audiences.
What does it take to adopt a CIMO Perspective? Here are five key elements he spells out:
Align CMO/CIO business outcomes. Both departments need to align on achieving key business outcomes for the organization as a whole. This is particularly true since for most businesses, driving growth through digital initiatives is a key priority. This includes hiring staff with knowledge of both IT and marketing while holding regular joint meetings to define the customer experience and how to deliver on that from a digital perspective.
Put data and technology front and center for marketers. Marketing is becoming more technical and data-oriented. CMOs who have successfully met this challenge realize that while creativity will always be important, they must also now master analytics and make decisions based on data insights. IT leaders must, in turn, support marketing in this change for the overall success of the organization.
Recognize the importance of two-speed IT. Historically, IT was tasked with managing core infrastructure and platforms, but its role now increasingly supports innovation through systems that engage in new ways with customers. To avoid the proliferation of Shadow IT, CIOs speak of the need to reaffirm IT’s leadership of technology and become more flexible, while managing risk when it comes to security and compliance.
Prioritize communication and build trust. For IT and marketing leaders, prioritizing communication and trust is highly effective in creating a successful partnership. Greater discussion and collaboration around stress points like product time-to-market and resourcing were found to be crucial in improving efficiency and performance and in reducing conflict.
Evolve traditional mindsets and embrace IT without boundaries. Again, with technology budgets and control moving outside of IT, CIOs and CMOs must recognize the importance of breaking free from traditional mindsets and preconceptions that can keep them at odds with one another. For CMOs, this may require rethinking their fail-fast approach and their view of IT as slow and inefficient. For CIOs, this may mean thinking more commercially and challenging their view of marketing as inconsistent and prone to taking excessive risk. Both parties must understand how critical it is to align themselves around common business goals.
About Chris Miller
As CIO, Miller oversees the technology that powers Avanade’s 12,000 employees across 20+ countries. He’s considered a trusted advisor both inside and outside the company, known for helping customers optimize their own operations.