CIOs and CMOs Must Work Together to Satisfy Customers

Forrester Research highlights need for better IT and marketing links in the age of customer centricity

The strained, dysfunctional relationship between CIOs and marketers can be overcome, in part by rallying around the customer. After all, we're in an age that requires IT and business people to put aside their differences in order to bring business technologies to bear that will win, serve and retain customers.

At least this is the key finding in a new report by Forrester Research. "The age of the customer places new demands on organizations, requiring changes to how they develop, market, sell and deliver products and service," the report says. "IT and business teams frequently inhibit successful digital experience execution by failing to work cooperatively."

Related: What Do CMOs and CIOs Really Think of Each Other?

Forrester relates how a consumer packaged goods company became mired in the IT-business conflict, and in so doing lost focus on delivering a connected customer experience. Tired of waiting for IT approval, the digital marketing team took a go-it-alone mentality and bought a software-as-a-service app for content management, ignoring a sizable investment already made in a legacy Web content management system controlled by IT.

Related: CMOs Must Expand Their Tech Skills in the Digital Marketing Era
CMOs and CIOs still don't trust each other

By doing an end-run-around IT, business units don't realize that IT will not be in a position to support the business technology when it breaks or requires customization. Even worse, the Forrester report says, rogue business technology "leads to an inconsistent digital experience delivery over the long term, when technology management professionals actively manage some digital customer experience applications but not others."

Related: Are CIOs Destined to Work for the CMO?

Forrester offers five ways IT and business can work together and avoid such scenarios:

If CIOs need to add to their agenda to include business technology, while still maintaining internal operations, IT could be overwhelmed and even slower to respond to business needs. That's why Forrester suggest CIOs improve the speed of digital marketing by selectively outsourcing.

"In the age of the customer, there's no room for intracompany turf wars, competing agendas and distrust among those who should be allies, especially in the symbiotic roles across technology management and the business," the Forrester report says.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple, BYOD and Consumerization of IT for Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Tom at

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