Good article on AdAge this morning, Friends With (Digital) Benefits: CMOs Link With CIOs.
The article includes several great anecdotes, from both agencies and brands, talking about the increased frequency of three-way meetings — the CMO, the CIO, and the agency — all collaborating together:
Agencies, especially those involved with digital work, say they’re increasingly taking meetings with both the CIO and CMO. Marketers in retail, financial services and media have been among the first to liaise with their technology teams, agencies say, and the result has been more useful customer data and innovative campaigns.
There’s also some insightful commentary from Luca Paderni, a leading Forrester analyst focused on marketing leadership. (I’m looking forward to hearing Luca present on this topic at Forrester’s CIO-CMO Forum here in Boston this Thursday.)
“At this point,” remarks Luca, “Even the marketer that would like to go it alone is realizing the level of complexity and data management is too big to manage alone.”
However, there’s a hidden logic in this story that I’d like to dig up.
The article recommends CIOs and CMOs work together. Check, couldn’t agree more. The article also shows that in that mode, CIOs are becoming “at peace” with having external agencies implement marketing-related tech work. Check, again. This is arguably one of the success drivers of new tech-savvy agencies such as SapientNitro.
If I paraphrase that:
1. IT is providing high-level consulting and governance to marketing missions.
2. People other than IT staff are doing some or all of the actual implementation.
In other words, if IT is comfortable providing advisory and governance services while another group actually implements marketing technology, should it matter whether that other group is a third-party agency or the marketing department itself?
Of course, in all fairness, not all marketing technology is created equal. The more embedded a technology proposes to be in a company’s operations — even if it’s primarily marketing operations, such as with marketing automation platforms — the more IT might feel that is infringing upon their traditional domain.
So-called “creative technology” — such as an app implemented on Facebook or the iPhone — feels easier to relinquish because IT rarely had that kind of stuff under its control previously.
Still, the lines are blurring, and this open three-way collaboration is an important step in the right direction. It’s like watching a genetic algorithm unfold before our eyes, the DNA of marketing and IT entwining and evolving:
While many companies will be hammering out this relationship in the months and years to come, a hybrid exec is already beginning to emerge. Take, for example, Eric Pearson, chief marketing officer for the Americas division of InterContinental Hotels Group. He started out at IHG as senior director-emerging technologies, before moving into e-commerce and then marketing. That kind of cross-pollination — “geeks” heading to the marketing department and vice versa — will be a boon for the C-suite, Mr. Paderni said.
“Technology is becoming critical to marketing,” said Mr. Pearson, who has a degree in electrical engineering. “The next generation of CMOs will be a blend.”