Going to battle with, not against, marketing


The marketing profession has an expanding wealth of data at its finger tips, flowing in from social media, websites, CRM systems, call centers and other sources. At the same time, with widening access to cloud-based services, marketing has at its disposal a growing array of potential tools to leverage the information. In this confluence of technologies, CMOs are seeing great prospects for an ascending role in the enterprise, and CIOs are unlikely to be left untouched by it.

"I can see opportunities where there would be a joint role, in which the CMO would have a lot more control over IT strategy," Dave Frederickson, national vice president of business development at Canadian IT consultancy Long View, told me recently. "There's always been a tight linkage between the CIO and CFO. The CMO now is a role that can be pretty powerful."

Frederickson is well-positioned to appreciate the nexus between IT and marketing, having spent 24 years at HP (NYSE: HPQ) Canada before joining Long View. He served simultaneously as CMO and vice president, and general manager, of Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking. With the explosion of unstructured data available to businesses and the easy access to IT services via the cloud, he says, marketing departments are spending an increasing portion of their budgets on IT, and CIOs need to be sure they're riding shotgun.

"There is some healthy dialogue that's going on between business and IT, and it has to do with speed to market and deriving value out of IT," he said. "If it takes months to roll out a new service because the IT infrastructure is too complex or inflexible to allow it to happen quickly, that creates a friction that has been going on for a long time. The power pendulum could be swinging a little more toward business and marketing."

Despite the notorious turf battle between marketing and IT, most CMOs really don't want to take over the CIO's job, Frederickson says. As the system infrastructure in marketing evolves well beyond CRM, CMOs aren't going to want responsibility for operating in the long term. They're more likely to focus on the innovation value that the technology can provide.

However, as CMOs realize greater power in the enterprise derived from their ability to leverage technology, optimizing the value of data will hinge on the willingness of IT and marketing to join forces and work toward the same goal, Frederickson says. "They're going to have to understand that they need to coexist and go into battle arm-in-arm." - Caron

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