CMO + CIO: destined to merge or collide?

One of our most popular blog posts this year considered the battle between CMOs and CIOs and how marketing-savvy CIOs and tech-savvy CMOs could forge powerful alliances. We’ve also written about the evolution of the CMO role in particular, as well as dug into the different ways that big data may affect the CMO-CIO partnership.

When it came time to put together our sessions for Collabosphere, then, we knew we wanted to explore these themes a little further – and we were thrilled to get a pair of experts who spent a lot of time in the trenches of marketing and IT: Rapid7 CIO Jay Leader and Rapid7 CMO Carol Meyers.

Rapid7 is entirely reliant on inside sales, so it’s obviously critical that Meyers and her team are constantly filling the pipeline for the sales team. How does a company maintain healthy plumbing? Leader likened his role to the plumber and called Meyers the architect. Each role is vital, but would it make more sense to find an architect-plumber hybrid? Or should these specialists learn to work together in harmony?

Marketers as tech buyers

Meyers began by talking about the much-discussed Gartner forecast that CMOs will be spending more money on IT than their CIO counterparts within the next four years.

“My view on technology is that technology is only good if it helps me achieve my goals – and if it doesn’t help me achieve my goals, I’m not interested,” Meyers said. “I can spend every day, all day, just evaluating technology. I get a lot of emails every day from people promising they can save my world, fill my pipeline, make my ads more effective and actually automatically translate my website.” Time spent researching vendors, of course, is time spent away from campaign creation and lead generation. Some members of Meyers’ team are better positioned to do these evaluations from a marketing technology perspective, but that doesn’t override the importance of IT involvement.

“You can’t be an island. If I bring in technology that doesn’t [take into account] what the rest of the company is doing… the customer experience is really poor,” said Meyers.

CIOs vs. consumerization?

When he took the mic, Leader questioned the veracity of that particular Gartner report (a report which has become so well-circulated that its findings seem universally accepted), especially given that depreciation will likely remain under the CIO’s jurisdiction.

Mobile technology is putting a premium on ease-of-use, which CIOs and IT teams should embrace. “Lots of CIOs will tell you that consumerization is the enemy; I will tell you that consumerization is not the enemy, but it changes the CIO’s role,” Leader said. “In the old days, you couldn’t get anything out of a computer unless you came through me or my organization… Those weren’t the good ol’ days. They were the good ol’ controlled days if you were a CIO, but I think we all look at it and understand that fundamentally no one could operate a business that way.”

While there’s some fearmongering about BYOD and the mobilized masses in your business, there are also some genuine concerns. “It matters where the data goes, it matters whether you leave it exposed in places that are dangerous, it matters that it can’t talk to other places.”

The CIO view: what marketing can do better

Leader’s six-step wishlist for marketers looking to embrace new technology:

  • Think holistically
  • Understand that all that glitters is not gold
  • Get IT involved early
  • Take the time to help us understand the “why”
  • Believe that we’re trying to help you, not hold you back
  • Don’t go rogue

In return? Leader highlighted IT’s importance in building architecture and plotting a sustainable roadmap,vetting and championing solutions and, when necessary, playing “bad cop” in negotiations with vendors.

Building a roadmap together

If marketing and IT are in fact on a collision course, it doesn’t mean they’re doomed to crash; it just means CMOs and CIOs need to look through the windshield and see what’s ahead. Roles are certainly evolving, and marketers are getting more technologically savvy while IT teams are leaving the silo and becoming more in tune with overall company strategy. But Meyers and Leader don’t see hybrid CMO-CIOs looming on the horizon any time soon. Instead, plumbers and architects will join together on a shared mission, motivated by the end result for customers and keeping in mind strategic initiatives across the company.

To take a deeper dive into the world of marketing and IT, you can watch the full session below and download Jay and Carol’s presentation.

Check out our full Collabosphere page for many other fascinating talks and sessions, featuring leading brands and agencies like CBS, Pinkberry and RAPP, as well as a keynote address on the future of work by best-selling author and collaboration expert Jacob Morgan.

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.