By Bill Cunningham
April 8, 2020
I’ve worked with a lot of organizations over the years, always in roles that are dependent upon marketing and the internal IT infrastructure working successfully. I’ve seen it succeed and I’ve seen it fail. The key is the relationship between the CMO and the CIO. Historically, these two roles work in completely different spheres of an organization, with CMOs invested in revenue and customer acquisition and CIOs invested in digital infrastructure and data health. But, with marketing now operating in the digital sphere, this separation no longer makes sense.
CMO and CIO Shared Interests
If we had to pinpoint one place where this overlap comes to a head, it would be data collection and management. CMOs must collect, organize, and use data to deliver highly personalized and dynamic experiences. They need to instill cultures of experimentation and back up their decisions with data. However, many marketing departments collect a lot of data, but are underconfident about their ability to use it. CIOs on the other hand, are experts at managing information systems. But, they may be hesitant to encourage excessive data collection because of the organizational implications that volume of data imposes.
On the surface, this can lead to competing priorities. But more successful teams recognize this conflict as an opportunity for smarter data collection and management. This need has only been heightened in the past year, with many browsers introducing anti-tracking features such as Safari ITP, Firefox ETP, and Chrome’s new cookies policy. Marketers can no longer rely on third-party cookies to track user behavior, and now need to invest in more reliable software. This usually means working together with the IT team, and building user behavior tracking into the flow of traffic rather than in the browser.
A collaborative CMO and CIO team can help each other maximize the data they have, collect the data they need more methodically, and ensure that the data is accurate.
Building a Collaborative Tech Stack
The discrepancies between priorities don’t end once the CIO and CMO align their goals. The conflict can in fact be compounded once you get into the makeup of your organization’s tech stack. You’ll often see each team within an organization using different tools to collect the same types of data. For example, a marketing team may collect performance data through their customer behavior analytics tool, while an IT team collects the same data with a RUM tool. This creates silos of information that ultimately lead to less access to information and degraded data quality overall across the organization.
So what’s the cure? In my experience, CIOs can help CMOs understand how data is connected throughout the entire organization. With that baseline understanding, CMOs can then assess what information they still need to collect, and make smarter decisions about how to do so.
Creating a Data-Driven Organization
As we move forward, we’re only going to see more complexity come into our data collection and management practices. AI is already starting to change the game, and as the Internet of Things grows we have more and more touch points to monitor. Meanwhile, policies like GDPR and the increase in browser tracking preventions have changed what data organizations can collect and store, making the health of your information system even more critical. In this landscape, the only way to achieve continued success across the organization is to change the dynamics within. The new CMO / CIO team can be the catalyst for that change.
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