IBM Plays Marriage Counselor Between CIOs and CMOs

Michael Vizard

There has never been much love between chief marketing officers (CMOs) and their CIO counterparts. CMOs often tend to think IT organizations are generally too slow to meet their needs, while CIOs tend to resent when CMOs go around them, as well as when they violate any number of data governance and compliance policies.

This situation is now so far out of hand that Gartner is predicting that CMOs by 2017 will be spending more on IT than the CIO. Some say this shift simply reflects the growing value of data to marketers. To a certain degree, that’s true. But a huge percentage of that spending is being applied to manage redundant data. CMOs are deploying massive amounts of IT infrastructure on premise and in the cloud to support applications that house data the enterprise already has in other systems. The board of directors at a lot of companies is starting to take note of that expense. As a result, Yuchun Lee, IBM vice president of enterprise marketing management, speaking at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2012 conference this week, noted that IBM now finds itself playing the role of marriage counselor between CMOs and CIOs.

As part of that effort, IBM is targeting an array of services at CMOs, including the launch this week of an IBM Marketing Center, a cloud service that uses IBM analytics to manage marketing activities on behalf of customers. IBM also launched a service that will manage a customer’s e-commerce and supply chain systems as well.

Alisa Maclin, vice president of marketing for IBM Smarter Commerce, says one of the more interesting trends that IBM is starting to see organizations employ to bridge the divide between IT and marketing is to embed personnel from marketing inside the IT department and vice versa. In addition, some companies have set up steering committees to help prioritize IT projects as they relate to marketing.

But perhaps the best advice for IT at the conference came from Simon Howard, CIO for global information services business engagement management at Husqvarna, who told attendees at the conference that IT executives “should listen very closely to marketing, and then do the right thing anyway.”



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