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Ways CFOs Can Manage the CIO-CMO Relationship

As the marketing and technology aspects of companies shift further apart, there are four crucial tips that CFOs can take to ensure that the top marketing and IT officers in their organizations work together harmoniously, according to a CFO Magazine opinion piece written by executive IT recruiting expert Martha Heller.

Heller explains that in past eras, the CIO had the authority to put marketing projects in the back seat with the CFO's implied agreement, but that initiatives of this type have become more important with the proliferation of Big Data, social media and business analytics. With these new technologies, CMOs are illustrating how their projects can bolster revenue much more easily.

New Direction

The new dynamic has led to friction between CMOs and CIOs, according to CFO Magazine. CMOs are making significant efforts to get the funding they need to pay for their initiatives, and to obtain cooperation from CIOs in order to achieve their goals. Market research firm Gartner recently predicted that by the year 2017, marketing organizations will have higher technology expenditures than the IT departments at their companies.


Such a profound shift in the use of corporate budgets could easily make CIOs uncomfortable, the media outlet reports. Such problems existing between marketing officers and IT officers could provide a significant hindrance to corporate performance, with three-fifths of marketing staff taking part in a recent IBM study saying that their relationship problems with the CIO was undermining the ability of the company to harness technology to interface with clients.

CIO Concerns

A separate CFO Magazine piece published recently reports that while CMOs are making their own technology decisions, CIOs might fear they could lose their jobs. If the top IT officer of a company departs in this manner, it could give the entire organization a black eye by making it seem like it does not value IT workers.

Another area where a company could get in trouble is by running into privacy issues stemming from the use of technologies such as Big Data, according to CIO Magazine. As companies gather more information, security concerns have become salient to the point where they have been drawing increasing scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.

Aside from potential security issues, having the CMO take the lead on picking technology vendors can set up a situation where the suppliers either contribute to business success or failure is blamed on the company IT department, CFO Magazine reports. If marketing picks out a cloud service, and it experiences a failure at a crucial time, IT will not be well-prepared to get service up and moving again.

In this unfortunate situation, the CIO has no relationship with the vendor, did not select the services of the company and has not already devoted the human capital needed to fix the problem. But since this corporate officer is in charge of IT, he is likely to be blamed.

At this point, the important question is what can a CFO do to manage these risks when an up and coming CMO decides he wants to purchase his own technology?

1) Support The CIO

While many corporate staff members may rush to blame IT given the existing dynamic of rising CMO prominence, companies should support the priorities of the CIO, according to the news source. Firms should be sure to help this top IT officer in his desire for security and efficient processes.

It is important to emphasize to the CMO that he should follow these CIO priorities. Organizations concerned that the top marketing officer will not be able to meet these requirements might collaborate with the CIO to see if rules can be made less stringent.

2) Have CIO Be Consultative

The media outlet reports that one good way to make the most of the new dynamic is to have CIOs serve in a consultative function. In this model, the marketing organization will do its own IT research and make its own vendor decisions, but will be encouraged to collaborate with IT. This situation requires the IT department to interface with marketing in a consultative manner. One thing a CFO can do to help this situation is to speak with the CIO and ask him to lessen his defensive stance.

3) Invest In IT Training

If members of corporate IT staff are going to serve as advisors to members of marketing, they will have to understand a wide range of concepts - such as Big Data, consumer technologies, software as a service, and business intelligence - and also how these technologies can be leveraged to provide companies with value, according to the news source. It is important that this department be well-funded to ensure that IT staff have the knowledge they need.

4) Encourage CMO To Collaborate

While the CIO is investing time into learning more about marketing and developing his consultative skills, the CMO can do his part to study all the different technologies at his disposal and how they can help him execute his marketing objectives. This top marketing executive should be sure he knows why effective vendor selection requires knowledge of integration, support costs and security, and also work to build better relationships between his staff members and IT.

What are you doing to ensure that your CMO and CIO are working together in a way that best supports your business objectives?

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