The changing roles of CIOs and CMOs


When Gartner proclaimed back in 2012 that by 2017, chief marketing officers (CMOs) would spend more on tech than chief information officers (CIOs), many in the tech industry didn’t bite. Such a significant shift in board-level tech spending seemed improbable, yet the tide is starting to turn.

The changing roles of CIOs and CMOs

Fast-forward to today and Gartner’s prediction of CMO spending is coming close to truth. Quite rightly fuelled by the growing demands of digital commerce, CMOs allocated 3.24% of their total company revenue on technology in 2016. Meanwhile, revenue reserved by CIOs for the same purpose stood at 3.4%.

Despite the changes in tech spend, Andrew Stephen, L’Oréal professor of marketing at Saïd Business School, argues that the alteration isn’t as drastic as it seems, and it certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise.

He told the Telegraph: “The job of a CMO is now more complex. The spending on technology within marketing is increasing at a rapid rate. There’s a need for more data-driven, tech-savvy and quantitative-minded marketing staff, as well as creativity and strategic thinking.”

Gartner’s research also highlighted the way marketing roles are changing; with 27% of their budgets now channeled into technologies like big data and analytics. Meanwhile, 30% of CMOs reported that they had taken on more responsibilities as aspects of sales, IT and customer experience were integrated under the marketing umbrella.

For Giles Lee, executive director of the Mission Marketing Group, changing customer behaviours and expectations are the catalysts behind this. He notes that because of the ubiquity and popularity of the likes of Google and Amazon, people have come to expect and demand instant solutions.

“Continued commercial success is tied to inventing ways to meet customer expectations. Businesses like ours are blending tech, data, marketing and business strategy to drive competitive advantage,” he noted.

Increasingly, we are also seeing the onus of company growth placed at the feet of CMOs, who for the first time are culpable for an organisation’s success – or lack thereof. Alan Walsh, chief executive of cloud technology consultancy Amido, told the Telegraph that companies must now do more than just offer a new product. Crucially, they are also expected to “be able to communicate with each customer on a very personal level.”

However, in spite of the changing roles of both CIOs and CMOs, many in the industry think that it’s unlikely to cause conflict. After all, as Matt Cockbill, digital and IT leadership specialist at senior management recruitment firm Berwick Partners states: “Any CIO or CMO who measures their worth through spend on tech is missing the point. It’s the value of the output that counts.”

In fact, rather than reducing the CIO’s importance, the changes bolster it. Gartner’s research proves what many have long suspected: organisations can no longer present IT and marketing as two separate, opposing teams. Never before have the roles of CIO and CMO been so interconnected.

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