Not long ago the CIO was the star in the Enterprise. He was talking tech lingo and explained the Executive Suite that what he is doing is mission critical to the business. It was hard not to agree as CIOs spoke in a coded language, they were hard to understand and even harder to argue with. Geoffrey Moore, Prof. Donovan, Prof. Hammer and others were talking along the same line and the promise was that IT would let companies grow faster and make them more efficient than ever. The CIO was an important person and many IT companies catered to these individuals as if they would be Rock Stars. Most of them implemented complex ERP systems in those days to manage the companies’ financials, supply chain and other mission critical functions. Those were the golden days for CIOs – they were comfortably leveraging huge budgets, got attractive salaries and substantial bonuses.
I remember a story a when I was a young marketer and we launched one of these mission critical ERP systems in Mexico. Next to me was sitting the CMO of a super large ERP vendor. When the opening show started, something unexpected happened. Boom…the fireworks, which were intended to showcase the power of the IT Industry, had exploded. Somehow a rocket flew through the room over the heads of nearly 1200 CIOs. It was a historic event and people still talk about it. Fortunately nobody got hurt.
Marketing in those days was delivering mainly spectacular events and glossy brochures. The CMO was not part of the C-Suite but rather considered a cost center and neither did he or she get prime seating, visionary keynotes or other perks. The marketing guys were simply the nice, cool and fun guys. The only thing everybody wanted from us was giveaways and occasionally a spectacular event. Most of our marketing strategies were mainly based on a gut feeling and we had no data to back our actions. Well, to be frank, we did not complain as our budgets were great and we did not have to deliver any data on ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment). Yes, we were in the Tornado as Geoffrey Moore used to say.
Now the power and budgets are shifting towards the lines of business and especially the CMO. Thanks to the Internet, marketers can now measure, analyze, correlate, slice and dice data in every possible way. We, marketers, have now the Data for a smarter use of our marketing dollars and yes, the C-Suite keeps us accountable for our spending.
However, I believe in today’s world both the CMO and the CIO have something in common. It’s not per se a mutual love or admiration; it’s something else. It’s the need to deliver increasingly more value to the lines of business. That is something where both need to work together. I have seen companies where this works well and as a result the perception shifts – from being a cost center to a profit center for both the CIO and the CMO.
Both functions are more critical than ever. The challenge for CIOs is to cope with the enormous amount of new technologies as well as to acquire the skillset to master and deploy these new technologies.
In many organizations I see now the power shifting away from the traditional CIO towards the CMO and other Line of Business Executives. CEOs know, thanks to all the available data and tools in place, that they can make the CMO truly accountable. The CMO needs to drive revenue, generate new opportunities and nurture the brand. And tech will help him to do so.
Actually the life span of the CIOs and CMOs is probably the shortest among all lines of business. It’s a revolving door and very few have staying power. The CEO usually asks what you could do for the organization versus what you need in order to do your job. The CEO believes that tools and data are now widely available in-house or in the cloud to be utilized. On the other side, budget cuts and staff reduction seem to be a constant. Do more with less and everything much faster. This is the tagline in the C-Suite. I strongly believe that if the CIO and CMO embrace each other then their life span can be greatly enhanced. They both starve to get the glory days back again.
Today both functions struggle to keep up with all new technologies arriving and grand promises to solve all their problems. Every new technology needs to be understood and integrated in a holistic tech landscape in order to be relevant and to be able to add value to the organization.
My final belief is that although budgets and the power within an organization is moving towards the CMO, he or she cannot do it alone. They need the CIO more then ever to bring value and make technology work in the new reality. Make friends and bring more value for a greater future. You the CMO can be the new Rock Star.