The business value of CIO and CMO partnerships

There's an opportunity in business today for CIO and CMO partnerships to take advantage of new technologies and use them in new ways to create value.

Center for CIO Leadership Executive Director Harvey Koeppel was the featured speaker at the April 11 SearchCIO360 dinner and networking event in New York. He took some time out to discuss with CIO/IT Strategy Media Group Editorial Director Scot Petersen some ways to reimagine or reinvent CIO and chief marketing officer (CMO) partnerships. An excerpt of their conversation follows. For the complete conversation, please download the podcast.

Petersen: What was the thesis for the night's discussion?

Koeppel: Where we started was a general consensus around the room that there really are some interesting gaps in the relationships today between marketing teams, led by the CMO, and IT teams, led by the CIO. In many cases, it feels as if these different groups are actually speaking different languages -- and frankly, in many cases they probably are.

We see this as an opportunity for CIOs to act as someone who is at the table helping to develop the business strategy, as compared to being handed the strategy.

Some of these disconnects or gaps have historically led to the proliferation of different technologies across the enterprise, most often managed by CIOs and their IT staffs. Very commonly, many marketing departments, for lots of reasons, have developed their own IT capabilities, and have relied on internal and external resources, service providers, and consultants to support their efforts around data analysis, segmentation, campaign management and so forth.

It's clear to everyone that, given the tremendous proliferation of things like social media and mobile technologies, where so much more customer information is available, there is now a tremendous business opportunity for CMOs and CIOs to come together.

Perhaps they could learn each other's language; certainly they could be looking at common objectives and really leveraging so much more data that's available across the enterprise, in support of many of the traditional marketing and sales activities of the business.

Did you find a lot of agreement on that thesis?

Everyone in the room was pretty well aligned with the thesis as we've described it. Where there was some really lively conversation was around what do we do about it next? How do we really begin to bridge the gaps that exist?

Beyond discussing marketing-speak and IT-speak, we tried to focus on how this is about a reimagining of the business as a whole.

Yes. There was a lot of great discussion around the need for this kind of communication and agreement around business objectives and anticipated outcomes across the C-suite.

What is the next frontier for CIOs to advance their career and their profession?

There's this tremendous opportunity for CIO and CMO partnerships to be reimagined or reinvented. We definitely see an opportunity around many of the newer technologies -- things like cloud computing or data analytics or mobility. These technologies are really changing the landscape of how companies are doing business and are still in many cases at an emerging state.

And we believe that CIOs have an enormous opportunity to understand these technologies, both from a technology perspective, but probably more importantly from a business perspective -- how these kinds of technologies can be used to help their enterprise both formulate a better business strategy, as well as then implement against those strategies.

We see this as an opportunity for CIOs to raise the bar, to really step up into enterprise leadership roles, which is very different from managing the IT department; to be perceived and to act as an enterprise leader, as someone who is at the table helping to develop the business strategy, as compared to being handed the strategy for implementation.

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Harvey Koeppel discusses the gaps in the CIO-CMO relationship


Read the full transcript from this podcast below:

Scot Petersen: Hello, and welcome to this SearchCIO Podcast. I'm Scot Petersen, editorial director of the CIO/IT Strategy Group at TechTarget. And with me today is Harvey Koeppel, executive director for the Center for CIO Leadership and a former CIO of Citigroup. Harvey was the featured speaker at the recent CIO 360 Dinner event in New York. And he's here to share with us some of the high points of that event and some of the lessons learned. Welcome, Harvey.

Harvey Koeppel: Thank you, Scot. It's great to be here.

Scot Petersen: We have a lot of points to get to about this dinner, but I wanted to start with the title for the discussion that we had there. Which was?

Harvey Koeppel: "Reimagining the Marketing and IT Partnership."

Scot Petersen: Yes. Could you just take us through some of the initial talking points and what we learned about that?

Harvey Koeppel: Sure. Essentially, where we started was a general consensus around the room that there really are some interesting gaps in the relationships today between the marketing teams led by the CMO and the IT teams led by the CIO. In many cases, it almost feels as if these different groups are actually speaking different languages and frankly, in many cases, they probably are, as marketing people speak the language of marketing and communications and sales appropriately so.

And IT, as we know, loves the jargon and acronyms and the IT speak, which, of course, I use only in the most affectionate and endearing way, having been a CIO myself. But I think some of these disconnects, if you will, or gaps in communication, have historically led really, to the proliferation of different technologies across the enterprise, most often managed by CIOs and their IT staff.

Where very commonly and I believe this was also talked about quite extensively during our dinner together. Many marketing departments for lots of reasons, which I'm sure we'll get into in a few minutes, have essentially developed their own IT capabilities and have relied both on internal as well as external resources, service providers, consultants, to support their efforts around data analysis segmentation, campaign management and so forth.

So, it's really, I think, clear to everyone, especially given the tremendous proliferation of things like social media and mobile technologies. Where so much more customer information is available that there is now a tremendous business opportunity for CIOs and CMOs to come together, perhaps learning each other's language. Certainly looking at common objectives and really leveraging so much more data that's available across the enterprise in support of many of the traditional marketing communications and sales activities of the business.

Scot Petersen: Did you find that there was a lot of agreement on that thesis?
And that nodding heads, let's say? That there was first of all, a disconnect? And second of all, an opportunity?

Harvey Koeppel: Yes, I think that's probably a fair statement, Scot. I think that everyone in the room was pretty well-aligned around the thesis as we've described it, where some really lively conversation was around "What do we do about it next? How do we really begin to bridge the gaps that exist?"

And it's really not just about language. I think some of the other conversations that we got into were quite interesting around things like the responsiveness of the IT department. The expense associated with typical solutions from IT departments, where marketing folks will often view the time to completion of a project as too long and/or too expensive.

And then, frankly, from the other perspective, there was lots of great discussion around how, from the IT perspective, often the marketing people will be dealing in projects where the requirements are perhaps, less than fully-defined at the outset, where much of the work is more of an exploratory nature. Which, really, is a different mode, if you will, of operating than most IT departments are used to, where there's a very clear methodology and process in place around getting agreement right from the beginning, around the scope and the requirements for whatever technology needs to be built.

Scot Petersen: Beyond the speak of IT and marketing, I think we also try to touch on the fact that this isn't just a marketing or an IT problem. It's a way of reimagining how the business should be run as a whole.

Harvey Koeppel: Yes, absolutely. There was a lot of great discussion around the need for this kind of communication and, really, an agreement around the overall business objectives and anticipated outcomes across the C-Suite.

So, for large programs that require significant investment, it's absolutely important not just for the CMO and the CIO to be on the same page. But also, the CFO and the CHRO and the CEO and the COO. All of the C-Suite members, if you will, as well as the business leaders who, of course, ultimately are responsible for delivering the best products and services to the customers.

While we had many of these conversations in the context of the CIO/CMO relationship, I think there was general agreement and lots of good conversation around the importance. And I might even add the urgency, in some cases, for the C-Suite for the executive teams, to start to come together around some of these critical issues in order to really exploit the maximum business value from both the enormous quantities of data and some of the new analytic tools and techniques that are now available, to be able to support the customer interactions.

Scot Petersen: For those of our listeners who do not know about the 360 dinners we've had, this is the third one we did. The first two were in Boston and Los Angeles. And this third one in New York on April 11th was produced in partnership with the Center for CIO Leadership. Harvey, could you talk a little bit about, from your perspective, both involved with the dinner and at the center, why it's important to give opportunities to CIOs and other senior IT executives like these, the opportunity to peer network?

Harvey Koeppel: Sure, absolutely critical. I think the short answer, Scot, is it's literally impossible for any one individual to have complete knowledge of everything that's going on in the industry. Whether it be their business' industry of financial services or healthcare or manufacturing, whatever the industry may be, or the IT industry, which is certainly near and dear to our hearts.

So, these kinds of functions allow executives to come together to network and really share experiences. And to understand from each other, what works. And equally, importantly, what doesn't work. Often, we learn more from attempts that didn't quite turn out the way we expected. which caused us to take a bit of a step back and be somewhat introspective and lots of learnings accrue from those experiences.

And it's certainly extremely valuable to hear from peers and colleagues about both things that worked out well and how the projects were implemented, where the speed bumps were, where the challenges were, a very effective way for CIOs, IT executives, business executives at any level, to really sharpen their skills and their insights and information available about what's going on across the industry.

And how they can leverage some of the great tools/technologies and methods and processes to really increase the value of their role and their contribution as IT leaders within their enterprise.

Scot Petersen: Sure. Could you share a little bit of information about what kind of resources your Center for CIO leadership has?

Harvey Koeppel: Absolutely, Scot and thank you for asking. The Center is a virtual community of about 3,400 executives worldwide. We have membership in roughly 70 countries representing 50-some odd industries across public and private sector.

The Center itself serves as both a hub for networking for CIOs and other C-
level executives to meet other virtually. It serves as a repository for research-finding analysis, white papers, case studies. Good content that really, the way we describe it, provides readers with actionable insight.

So, it's great to understand theory and the concept and the strategy. But at the end of the day, as we know, it's all about how you actually go forward with implementation. And so, a lot of the content that we provide is really geared towards helping executives to understand, first of all, the goals and objectives of what we describe as the business-savvy CIO.

And then we provide the tools and tips to really help them succeed in this new role. We also do in-person events, very similar to the one we did together with Search 360 around this dinner conversation. We also hold virtual round-tables which bring together business leaders and IT leaders from all over the world usually focused on a specific topic, such as the relationship between the CMO and the CIO.

Or how to express the business value of Cloud computing or the business value of being on structured data or whatever it may be. But, again, allow CIOs to network peer to peer and really share an open discussion and dialogue. And sometimes debate around what works and what doesn't.

So, it's a really vibrant group growing all the time. And always interested in new members joining and engaging in the conversation.

Scot Petersen: What's the Web address for that again?

Harvey Koeppel: It is www.cioleadershipcenter.com. And it is absolutely free for members to register.

Scot Petersen: Let's just end on one further question. We talked a little bit about the relationship that is going to need to evolve between the CIO and CMO. What's the next frontier for the CIO as he or she wants to A: advance their career and also advance the whole industry of Chief Information Officers within the enterprise?

Harvey Koeppel: That's a great question, Scot, the way we see it at the Center for CIO Leadership. As you, I think, very correctly point out, there's this tremendous opportunity for CIO and CMO partnerships to be re-imagined or reinvented. We definitely see an opportunity around harnessing many of the newer technologies. We've mentioned a couple in our conversation here today around things like Cloud computing or data analytics or mobility, just as a few examples.

These technologies are really changing the landscape of how companies are doing business or really still, in many cases, at an emerging state. And we believe that CIOs have an enormous opportunity to really understand these technologies, both from a technology perspective, but probably, equally, maybe more importantly, from a business perspective.

How these kinds of technologies can be used to help their enterprise. Both formulate a better business strategy as well as then implement against those strategies. So, we really see this as a way for CIOs to really raise the bar on their game, if I can use that expression, to really step up into enterprise leadership roles.

Very different than managing the IT department. But to really both be perceived and to act as an enterprise leader as someone who is at the table helping to develop the business strategy as compared with being handed this strategy for implementation. Using some of these very forward-looking technologies and really helping their organizations to achieve better and better business results.

Scot Petersen: Thanks, Harvey, for sharing your knowledge today. And we look forward to seeing you in the pages of the Center for CIO Leadership and SearchCIO and at future TechTarget events.

Harvey Koeppel: Thanks, Scot. It was great speaking with you as always. And I'm looking forward to our continued collaboration.

Scot Petersen: This has been a SearchCIO podcast with Harvey Koeppel. I'm Scot Petersen, Editorial Director for the CIO/IT Strategy Media Group at TechTarget. Thanks for listening.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Scot Petersen, Editorial Director.

This was first published in April 2012

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