Caught in the act: Who would have thought the CMO and CIO would end up in bed together?

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when the head of marketing, and the head of technology rarely spoke. Perhaps they saw each other in the lunchroom, or crossed swords in the boardroom. 

Typically, their only interchanges involved discussions over budgets—because they were both competing for the same slices of pie. At Forrester's inaugural CIO-CMO Forum this past September, the company’s Sharyn Leaver kicked off the event by saying, "This is the first time we've brought CIOs and CMOs together in the same room — hope everyone comes out alive."

You see, the perceptions of technology and marketing once seemed like total opposites—one espoused “science,” the other “art." The right-brained folks were in marketing, the left-brain folks ruled the roost in technology.

But these days when both the CMO and the CIO need to be ”Chief Marketing Technologists,” we are finding the opposites attract, and the combination can be the only way of survival in today’s business environment where the consumer is king--a time many call the “Age of the Customer.”

With all of that “Big Data” being used in marketing automation, CRM, and behavior tracking platforms, marketers are driven by access and analysis of massive amounts of structured, and unstructured data. Marketing is now a technology-powered discipline, making the marriage of technology and marketing at minimum, a marriage of convenience, and at its best, a relationship that is greater than the sum of its parts.

I recently organized a salon of chief marketing executives (at a local saloon of course). We spent most of our time discussing how to market in the “age of the customer.” It is a topic at the top of most marketer's "keeps me up at night" list. There was much disagreement on the various approaches and strategies being implemented in the marketplace, and state of the industry; but one thing was clear: the role of marketing, and the role of technology is now one in the same. “I am nothing without technology. I’m a dinosaur waiting to become fossil fuel,” said one marketer as he downed another Sam Adams.

The technology group in today’s modern marketing world drives vendor identification, selection and management. Technology drives innovation into new ways of accessing and analyzing customer data, and has become a partner in marketing strategy into what to do with all of that data.

“Where they used to be our budget nemesis—we’d always be fighting over who gets money for various programs, now we’re joined at the hip, going into the corporate suite to fund programs together,” said a VP of Marketing at a Fortune 1000 consumer goods company.

And the reality is, with the cost of marketing technology solutions costing hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, the “technology” line item in many marketing budgets is now the single largest budget item. In fact, by 2017, Gartner says that CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.

What was once considered an expense, technology has now become a strategic marketing advantage.

May the company with the best CIO-CMO relationship win.

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