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The Evolution of C-Suite Communications

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Communication and collaboration among C-suite executives will become even more important to business success this year as the walls between certain roles begin to come down.

CMOs are experiencing the most significant impact as technology forces them to closely align with IT executives. International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that, "the CMO and the CIO will begin the year as functional peers and end the year as either friends or frenemies." An IDG CIO/CMO Partnership Survey was conducted comparing CIO and CMO responses to a variety of questions. Interestingly, nearly 70% of CIOs already think positively of their CMOs when it comes to their role in making technology decisions. But currently only 13% of CIOs have valued partnerships with CMOs, and 16% of CMOs have valued relationships with CIOs. So, in a nutshell, they see the value in growing their relationships and collaborating further but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

As the lines blur between the roles of the CIO and CMO in the coming year, it will be even more important for all C-level executives to communicate effectively -- both to ensure that they make the best strategic decisions by working with each other and also to ensure they are presenting a unified and cohesive front to the organization. With CIOs spearheading the gathering and processing of data in real time and CMOs looking to make actionable decisions on that data, processes will need to be implemented that encourage free and clear information-sharing between them. This will all boil down to effective communication and the ability to move beyond traditional, siloed departments and roles.

For example, with the advent of cloud technology that is easy to procure and use, CMOs will be able to identify and deliver capabilities to their workforces that do not require the approval or involvement of the CIO. Easy-to-use cloud solutions also allow CMOs to have more control over the speed, resources and timing of the end product. This will force the CMO to take on traditional CIO and CTO responsibilities.

Another area of common interest -- or expected collaboration -- for all departments pertains to the collection and analysis of big data. Real-time data analysis is a key priority for all C-suite business leaders:

  • CMO: Big data (or big insights) is the foundation for all marketing decision-making.
  • CTO: Product teams leverage big data to better understand how customers are using their solutions, including the features used most frequently or most highly valued.
  • CIO: Big data is valuable to IT organizations to better understand cloud service usage and negotiate the best subscription pricing from their vendors.

Supporting this idea that the CMO's role will be "techier" is insight from Gartner, which predicts that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. As marketing shifts focus from the more qualitative aspects of the art towards a quantitative data-driven science, the demand for SaaS marketing automation tools that track, measure, report and analyze the success of campaigns is going to continue to accelerate. Integrations with cloud marketing, virtual communications and CRM systems will be key.

To ensure cooperation and seamless transitions between CIOs and CMOs, conversations must be started now. The resulting initiatives, designed cooperatively by the IT and marketing teams, will be both more creative and profitable -- and far more likely to gain support from CEOs like me.