Get in Touch
Get in Touch


Business has a new marriage: here comes the CIMO

March 13, 2013

Julie Woods-Moss   

Blog Contributor

I started out as an encryptor having graduated in telecommunications engineering. I haven’t yet met another CMO with this background and so this puts me into a rather niche segment. It also means that I have always had an unusual interest in my CIOs backyard.

Seems that is becoming quite a trend. Gartner predicts that by 2017 the CMO will have greater control of the IT budget than the CIO as user driven content and applications, socialisation of the enterprise, mobile apps, big data and cloud adoption continues at a pace.

IBM’s recent survey, ‘The state of marketing 2012’ definitively showed that higher performing companies execute alignment between marketing and technology over their lower performing peer group. Encouragingly there is evidence that marketing and IT are joining forces as 38% of CMOs report to have deepened the tech skills they have in marketing but there is still a lot more to do. 60% of CMOs believe their lack of alignment with their own IT departments is the biggest obstacle to reaching the consumers of tomorrow.

At Tata Communications we have started to build tight bonds between IT, Engineering and Marketing. Together we made the decision to put the Head of Digital Marketing into a key role in the product development life cycle for a new launch. This was based on the core insight that our main source of competitive advantage would be around the customer experience of the ‘prosumer’ (a business professional who buys more like a consumer) rather than the features and functions of the service per se.

John Hayduk, Tata Communications’ CTO and CIO and I also attended a day in February at Facebook, hosted by Facebook’s CIO, Timothy Campos, and Head of Marketing, Rebecca van Dijck. Facebook absolutely see that 1+1 = 3 when it comes to the CIMO. We were part of a group of around twenty new couples who met with Facebook’s smartest and shared ideas around our challenges in security, big data, data privacy and new ways of using communications technology to engage with each other and our customers. The most insightful moment in the day was when we were each asked to put ourselves in the seat of our counterpart – whether that be the CIO or CMO and to suggest the biggest challenge our colleague faced and how we could help with that challenge

Some of the lessons we have learnt so far at Tata Communications in building alignment across marketing and IT:

• Cooperate – don’t compete
• Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions or in turn to answer them
• Embed full time people in the other’s function

• Develop joint project plans and dashboards
• Participate together in key hiring decisions
• Encourage intellectual curiosity in each other’s area of expertise
• Encourage diversity in the skill set of the primary project lead
• Have the view of the customer embedded in every key IT decision and milestone
• Work together to address the strategic challenges like BYOD and mobile

Building a new relationship takes time, patience and relies upon understanding the other’s perspective.

Oscar (to Felix): “You leave me little notes on my pillow. I told you a hundred-and-sixty-eight times I can’t .. stand .. little notes on my pillow!
‘We are all out of Corn Flakes. F.U.
“ It took me three hours to figure out that ‘F.U.’ was Felix Ungar!”
The Odd Couple, Neil Simon 1965

IT and marketing at first blush do make an odd couple. Each function can hide behind acronyms and emails – the enterprise equivalent of Felix’s pillow notes.

This is a lose, lose.

Instead, let’s celebrate the diversity of perspectives from the CIO and CMO, embrace the collective challenge, enjoy the other’s skill set and together become the catalyst for innovation in the enterprise that creates the next wave of shareholder value.

Follow Julie on Twitter: @juliewoodsmoss