Move over Brad and Angelina. Get out of the way Kimye. Take a seat Will and Kate. The hottest new couple (at least in business) is the CIO-CMO.

Today, being a digital business is synonymous with simply being in business. The lines between technology and brand have disappeared because the customer now experiences the brand through technology. The interconnection between technology and marketing continues to grow as marketing efforts are driven by data and analytics. Add to that an increased focus on an enhanced customer experience, and CIO-CMO collaboration becomes paramount.

The CMO is on the front lines in the battle for company growth. Equally important, the CMO is also in charge of the customer experience. Historically, the IT function has been seen as more of a behind-the-scenes support role, but not anymore. Since technology is now such an essential element of the customer experience, the CIO is now in command of a strategic department that facilitates revenue growth.

So how do these two functions get along? There is an increasingly collaborative attitude between CIOs and CMOs. According to a recent joint Forrester Research-Forbes Magazine report (Infographic), the news is encouraging, but there is still opportunity for improvement. And Forrester isn’t the only organization putting this relationship under the microscope. In the past few months organizations including Accenture, Gartner, PWC and McKinsey have all issued reports evaluating this relationship.

The foundation of any relationship is mutual respect and trust. Without it, there can be not real collaboration. The report states that respect is on the rise, with between 60- and 70% of both CIOs and CMOs experiencing mutual trust. The news is less positive when it comes to the details. For example only about half of the CMOs polled agree that the CIO and CMO jointly develop a technology strategy before budgeting and then select and deploy the technology together. However, the survey concludes on a high note, showing a solid majority of both CIOs and CMOs believe their organizations use impact on customer experience to prioritize technology investments.

With the continued adoption of CRM applications like Salesforce, organizations potentially have all their critical customer data in once place. As organizations come to appreciate the importance of the overall customer experience, customer reference programs are moving to greater visibility and strategic importance. The opportunity for improvement provided by an application designed specifically for customer references is clear – to marketing. But how does adding a new application complicate life for IT? What initial and on-going resources must be allocated to achieve the goal? CMOs want flexibility to deliver the best marketing solutions and comprehensive programs with measurable results. Their biggest concern is funding and speedy deployment of their projects. CIO’s on the other hand are challenged by the complexity and integration of platforms and systems and the seemly constant change requests.

Deploying a state-of-the-art reference management application is essential. Yet, if this application is separate from the CRM system, the CMO and the CIO must answer significant questions. Where will the data reside? How will it interface? How will the user experience be? What resources will need to allocated and how must time will it take to be up and running? That’s why, for organizations already using, the best answer is a native Salesforce application. This eliminates data syncing, duplication and security concerns as everything literally lives in Salesforce.

This is good for the CIO because he/she can manage and control in a single application that leverages both technology and human resources. Fewer duplicate silos of information mitigate risk and streamline maintenance. With customer reference management apps that are native to the CRM environment, deploying and maintain the new application is optimized. The CIO and CMO look good and together achieve reduced cost and time of implementation. These benefits speak directly to important issues identified in the Forrester-Forbes report and to issues near and dear to a CEO’s heart.

We recommend the Institute of Certified Customer Advocacy Professionals (ICCAP) for training and certification.
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