Practices for forging a strong CIO-CMO relationship

Here’s how you can bridge the C-suite gap and work closer together to meet business goals.
By Priya Prakasan

CIOs are constantly looking for ways to better leverage IT and improve business and operational efficiencies. While CMOs focus on growth and are leveraging the data explosion to craft unique customer experiences and strengthen the brand. While it might seem like the two roles don’t align, you’d be mistaken. A healthy CIO-CMO relationship is essential for improved business outcomes and ultimately the company’s growth and success.

1. Understand each other’s goals
To work well together it’s important both understand the other’s individual as well as department goals. While they might not always be in sync, the idea is to leverage each other’s strengths so that you both look like superstars, and together take the organization forward. An important part of the CIO’s job is to provide great customer experiences. And no one knows the customer like the CMO. Tap into the CMO’s inherent knowledge and creativity so as to find new ways to engage with customers, find the right technology strategy and better use your digital assets. Rather than competing with each other, work closely to rise above the competition.

2. Collectively brainstorm
To keep up with the rapid changes in the industry as well as organisation it is important CIOs and CMOs schedule regular meetings to compare notes, pass on knowledge learnt,and exchange ideas to deliver exceptional results. They don’t have to be a long-drawn out affair. Those can be tiresome and will put you off the experience. Keep them concise and precise, so to ensure you’ve on the same wavelength and working towards common corporate goals. If necessary lay down some ground rules about the interaction to define how you will work together to prevent any major issues down the road.

3. Provide transparency
To have clear accountability, the CIO should always bring transparency to the process. Schedule regular meetings to review the progress of joint projects. Have open discussions about all issues tabled, and keep egos out of it. Start by having a frank discussion on the kind of relationship you want to build, and how you plan to sustain and strengthen it. Everything else flows from here.

4. Cross-functional teams
No business will get far if people aren’t operating together as a team, and that includes different departments like marketing and IT. One of the major barriers that come in the way of this alignment is talent gap and recruiting challenges. One way out is to train existing employees in both departments innew skill sets. This will enable them tounderstand the communication styles of both the CIO and CMO. Another method is tointegrate the two functions and createa fully cross-functional team, with a leader that reports to the CIO and CMO.

5. Aligned leadership to drive customer experience
Acknowledge the fact that the CMO and you both ultimately have the same goals. So why not battle the competition together? Put your differences aside and present a united aligned leadership built on mutual respect and understanding. This gives your teams an opportunity to collaborate and improve customer experiences. Maintain an open channel of communication so as to leverage the CMO’s knowledge of the important stakeholders—the customers—to help you select the right technology strategy to meet your business goals.

Photograph: Mindandi – 

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