CMOs and CIOs are getting along better, but increasingly frustrated with execution

New Accenture Interactive report on IT and marketing alignment finds both sides are increasingly committed to collaborating, but conflict is rising over data and speed to market

Business collaboration
Business collaboration

Collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is lifting as marketing technology’s importance rises across organisations, yet new areas of conflict around data integration and speed to market are becoming apparent.

According to the latest Cutting Across the CMO-CIO Divide report from Accenture Interactive, 43 per cent of marketers and 50 per cent of IT leaders believe their relationship with the other has improved over the past year, while nearly one-quarter of all respondents believe collaboration between the two teams is currently at the right level.

This is a big step up from last year’s results, where just 10 per cent of respondents saw collaboration as sitting at the right level and trusted each other.

In addition, the report found marketing and IT departments are aligned on the importance of marketing tech, with more than half ranking it at or near the top of their priority list (52 per cent and 53 respectively). In 2014, 69 per cent of CMOs said they recognised the need to align with IT, up from 56 per cent in 2012, against 83 per cent of CIOs, up from 77 per cent in 2012.

Both sides are also in agreement on the priority focus areas: Customer experience, customer analytics, social media, corporate website and other Web development. For CMOs, main factors pushing the two sides together include marketing’s shift to digital, that technology underpins and shapes customer experience, and that access to customer insight and intelligence is critical to competitive advantage.

Related: Executive connections: CMOs and CIos that actually get along

However, the report highlighted new areas of conflict arising between the IT and marketing groups, notably around implementation and execution. The biggest of these is unsurprisingly, data integration.

Forty per cent of the CMOs said their company’s IT team doesn’t understand the urgency of integrating new data sources into campaigns to address market conditions – up 6 per cent year-on-year. And 43 per cent of CMOs claimed the technology development process is too slow for the speed required for digital marketing, up from 36 per cent last year.

In a sign of the growing recognition of technology’s role in driving single customer experiences, the report also cited an 8 per cent rise in marketers who agreed technology is siloed and too difficult to use to craft cross-channel experience.

CIOs also have their frustrations. The biggest are shifting goals and a perceived lack of vision from their marketing counterparts. Forty-three per cent of IT leaders surveyed said marketing’s requirements and priorities change too often for them to keep up, an increase of 3 per cent on last year’s result.

And a big one for marketing leadership: One out of four CIOs believe CMOs lack the vision to anticipate new digital channels, a rise of 14 per cent on last year’s survey.

“The CMO needs to develop a vision and strategy for how customers experience the while, while the CIO needs to deliver the tools and technology to bring those experiences and campaigns to life,” commented Brian Whipple, senior managing director of Accenture Interactive.

“Together they need combined processes and perhaps even organisations to make this happen. If one works without the other in a silo, customers will feel the impact and switch brands.”

Key skills identified by both sides as vital in delivering new digital initiatives are marketing knowledge in IT (43 per cent), customer experience skills (42 per cent), broad business understanding (42 per cent) and customer insight skills (40 per cent).

In the report, the authors noted that despite an improving relationship, there is still a need for CMOs to prioritise collaboration across the c-suite to help drive an integrated digital business.

“Execution appears to be the culprit, as both marketing and IT are challenged by rapidly shifting digital demands,” the report authors noted. One of the ways several organisations are addressing this is through a chief digital officer role, it added.

The Accenture Interactive report was based on a survey of 1100 senior marketing and IT executives worldwide and is the fourth in a series of reports from the consulting group on marketing and IT executive alignment.

Based on its findings this time around, Accenture Interactive identified four steps CMOs and CIOs could use to improve their relationship:

  • Invest time in establishing a digital vision and collaborate with each other to bring the vision to life;
  • Unify around the customer experience to create a truly digital business;
  • Rethink the operating model to integrate customer-focused skills throughout the company;
  • Orient a marketing model and budget that aligns with a new ecosystem of marketing services.

Infographic of Accenture Interactive's findings

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