Forrester CEO George Colony touts CIO-CMO collaboration

Founder and chairman of Forrester says CIOs and IT must evolve to stay relevant in the age of the customer

Forrester founder and CEO George Colony touted the shift from IT to business technology and urged CIOs to get closer to their marketing colleagues in the age of the customer.

Speaking at Forrester's CIO Forum in London and in an in-depth discussion afterwards with CIO and Christine Overby, Forrester vice-president and practice leader of digital and marketing leadership, chairman Colony said that "the only way forward is for the CMO and CIO to be highly co-operative".

"In many decades of experience I've noticed companies are not able to build customer-influencing, or customer-winning technology without that very close collaboration between the CIO and CMO," he said.

"I think there's perhaps about 10% of companies that do this well, and that figure is trending upwards because the pressure is now high on those roles to connect.

"Some industries are well ahead of others, retail and media being the leaders, with the least astute being food, transportation and manufacturing - but there is also very high variation in these sectors."

Colony cited the poor perception the IT function has in the eyes of other parts of the business, with Forrester research showing that 32% of marketing executives actually holding the view that the CIO was hindering business success.

Therefore, he said, IT needed to change in order to stay relevant.

"IT was blue collar technology," he said. "Business technology is more white collar. CIOs must move away from IT - from the fixing role of putting the fires out - and focus on the customer."

Overby noted how in some sectors where technology and analytics were pervasive IT had even infiltrated marketing. "The CMO of Capital One actually has an IT background," she said.

Colony said that because those who get the technology and employees who truly understand the customer are so rare, it's unlikely that roles with the dual skill sets will prevail and instead collaboration between business units should be the focus.

"Let's imagine you vaporise business technology and the CIO," Colony said. "Marketing will inevitably mess up the technology.

"But vice-versa, if you were to give marketing to the IT groups then they would mess up the customer side. They need to work together on this because there are different areas of expertise required, but IT as it's currently constituted will not be able to do this well.

"And I think it's very possible that future CIOs could even come from a marketing background."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Why defining brand strategy is vital to capitalising on quick wins

Big brands were once protected from small brands by high barriers to entry. Big brands had the resources to employ big agencies, to crack big ideas and to invest in big campaigns. They had the luxury of time to debate strategies and work on long-term innovation pipelines. Retailers used to partner with big brands.

Troy McKinnna

Co-founder, Agents of Spring, Calm & Stormy

3 ways to leverage the talents of your team to avoid disruption

​According to the World Economic Forum in its most recent The Future of Jobs report, the most important skills for the future are not technical, task-oriented skills, but higher-order skills such as creativity, social influence, active learning, and analytical thinking.

Gihan Perera

Futurist, leadership consultant

CMOs, it’s time to stop squandering customer attention

Businesses continue to highly value the attention they buy through paid media, yet at the same time, many continue to disregard and under-value opportunities to connect with customers using their owned media.

Well written Vanessa!! Agreed with your view that human experience is marketing's next frontier. Those businesses who are focused on the ...

Clyde Griffith

Forget customer experience, human experience is marketing's next frontier

Read more

Great tips for tops skills need to develop and stay competitive

Nick

The top skills needed to stay competitive in a rapidly changing workforce

Read more

The popularity of loyalty programs is diminishing, though I'd say it is because customers are savvy enough to recognise when a loyalty pr...

Heather

It’s time for marketers to rethink their approach to ‘loyalty’

Read more

Thanks Nadia for sharing this blog. It has really useful and amazing information about Salesforce Commerce Cloud and digital engagement w...

Holly Smith

Adidas taps data and technology smarts to build personalised digital engagement with consumers

Read more

clearly someone who's jealous and only comments from the safety of being behind their keyboard

Peter Sibson

The purpose of purpose - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in