The CIO – CMO Conflict

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The increasing automation of marketing activities is creating a cross-over of CMO responsibilities into traditional CIO territory. This can create a constant conflict or an opportunity for 60/40 behavior that can pay huge dividends.

Even if the two executives have a great relationship the nature of the jobs doesn’t naturally promote cooperation without some detailed attention.

Remember the days when marketing was mostly about messaging, ads, and user stories and IT was about operations? The automation of the customer has changed the demands of the customer experience, requiring a technical view from both the chief marketing officer and the chief information officer. If the CMO-CIO relationship doesn’t work in a cohesive way, the marketplace notices.

Some ideas:


Each year we retreat into our bunkers for weeks to develop plans and budgets. The mechanical task of developing these plans is difficult. The resulting document emerges from middle of the night thinking, detailed research, and hallway conversations.

Sharing the resulting document with each other when it’s done is way too late.

It’s crucial to think through the budgeting issue. The CMO has an increasing percentage of their budget allocated to technology. How does that work? What are the implications downstream depending on where the budget resides for different technologies? Does budget control project infrastructure? Again, think it through.

Merge your planning process together and natural communication points will emerge.

Teach Each Other

The new world of today requires both camps to stretch. The CMO must develop the skill to deal with rapidly evolving technology and the CIO must understand the totality of the business more than ever. The mindset of each discipline is developed over entire careers. Find ways to share the way of thinking about things and infuse each discipline with the other.

The test – can the CIO predict what the CMO will think about an issue and visa-verse? Then use that insight when making choices.

Hire Together

For some positions it would be difficult to know if the staff member is part of marketing or part of IT without a scorecard. For these positions, develop interdepartmental interviewing teams. Develop cross boundary mentoring opportunities.

Do Projects Together

Nothing beats practical real life to learn about how each thinks. Applying assumptions in a real project, solving problems, and seeking clarity can cement a partnership. Work together from the start with two purposes – to get the project done successfully and to leave the project with a better relationship.

Hording discipline knowledge has to end. Cross the boundaries with 60/40 behavior for The New Leadership Normal.

I’m sharing more on how to galvanize this relationship this Saturday morning in our private weekly email. Just need your first name and email to get access. Click here.

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Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On March 31, 2015
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