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The CIO and CMO perspective on big data

Stephanie Overby | Aug. 6, 2014
CMOs now command more of the tech budget than any other executive outside of the CIO. With big data being one of the main drivers of technology spending, a strong relationship between IT and marketing is critical to business success.

Marketing leaders should take advantage of investments already made by IT. "Small boutique' solutions are often incompatible with enterprise-wide tools, making it often very difficult to access insights from elsewhere in the organization," says KPMG's Short. "CMOs should not try to recreate the wheel by building their own systems since these tools and capabilities likely exist already and can be provisioned by IT."

IT leaders can guide marketers through this emerging landscape. "The CIO can educate the marketing team on the possible and how to achieve the possible with data and analytics," says Korn Ferry's Hopkins. At Western Union, Executive Vice President of Global Operations and Technology and CIO John "David" Thompson see his role as one of technology sherpa for CMO Diane Scott and her marketing team. "We see them bump up against a challenge and we try to dig in and help them solve it," Thompson says. "We're their technology consultants."

Opening Up
In order to provide that guidance, Thompson and his team must anticipate marketing's needs before they have them. Developing tools and systems that support Western Union's 700 million transactions a year and delivers a unique customer experience to its hundreds of millions of customers is a challenge. "My team and I are highly engaged with marketing to understand the things they're trying to do to drive revenue, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce costs," Thompson says. "We have to stay one step ahead of them in order to stay abreast of the technology." Thompson's team takes marketing's strategic plan and extends it out two or three years so that IT can build out the appropriate infrastructure to support big data efforts and bring new capabilities to bear.

CMOs can better position the IT group to support big data plans by being open. "My counterparts in IT truly want one thing from me above all else: transparency," says Hope Neiman, Chief Marketing Officer of Tillster. "The more both teams can see the truth in the situation, understand what we're doing and grasp the impact that each team brings to the client, the more they want to collaborate for the common goal." "CMOs can connect the dots for CIOs, making clear how new business initiatives are linked with enterprise and big data knowledge around customer experience and behaviors," says Katherine Lee, Senior Client Partner in Korn Ferry's CMO practice. 

Syncsort CMO Gary Survis sees himself as marketing educator-in-chief for the IT group at the big data solutions company. "Marketing has changed dramatically in the last few years. We are being held accountable for results as never before, for the ability to understand our performance, for diagnostically identifying opportunities, and for making rapid changes to strategy based on analytics," Survis explains. "Part of my job is to educate the entire organization, including IT, about what this new normal is for marketing."


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