One positive result of the pandemic has been a stronger working relationship between CMOs and CIOs. Gone are the days when CMOs focus exclusively on marketing and CIOs focused only on back-end operations. To keep pace with rapid digital transformation, CMOs and CIOs are removing the siloes between their departments and developing true partnerships.

Increasingly, CMOs and CIOs are looking at one another as allies. According to a recent Forrester Research report, more than one-third of marketers said they view the CMO-CIO partnership as strategic. The same report found that increased collaboration between CMOs and CIOs can provide an improved customer experience and, as a result, drive business growth, two benefits both members of the C-suite are seeking.

Today, CMOs are as involved in technology as much as they are in marketing and need the support of CIOs to leverage technology to its fullest. While each executive will have their own responsibilities and expectations, these spheres will also intersect in meaningful ways to enable better business outcomes.

It’s all about the customer

This is especially true when it comes to providing a stellar customer experience. While customer-centricity has long been at the core of good marketing practices, digital acceleration has helped make this a more important principle across the business. As more companies plan to compete based on customer experience, a strong CMO-CIO partnership will become even more essential.

To collaborate more effectively, marketing and IT leaders should align their thinking about customer experience. For example, CMOs can help map the customer journey, identify points of friction and inconsistent processes while IT leaders can help gather and analyze the data captured during the customer experience and use technology to add efficiencies to the marketing process. By taking time to understand each group’s needs and priorities, CMOs and CIOs can work together to improve the end-to-end customer journey.

CMOs and CIOs can benefit from unique perspectives of the customer

It’s also important that CIOs and CMOs understand that their roles are still evolving. As the lines continue to blur, it’s helpful to think of the CMO as the “outside-in” view and knowledge of the customer and the CIO as the “inside-out” perspective that harnesses data and insights to help spread the customer-centric vision of the CMO. At the same time, CMOs must also know how to communicate to the CIO about the technology needed and relevant use cases so that they can work together to develop a strategic approach for securing the 360-degree view of the customer.

Make better marketing technology decisions

In today’s digital-first world, the savviest CMOs know that fulfilling their marketing goals will rely on technology to gather and analyze data, communicate with customers, and predict future trends. And while CMOs are becoming increasingly proficient with technology, their knowledge can’t compete with that of a CIO. Choosing which technology to leverage and the best way to use it is where the insight of CIOs becomes invaluable.

Six things CMOs and CIOs wish their counterparts knew

Ask any CMO and they will tell you about the things they wish CIOs knew about marketing. The top three would likely include:

  1. Better understanding the thinking behind marketing’s requests to the IT staff
  2. The importance of collaborative partnerships
  3. The pressure to meet modern customers’ growing expectations

Similarly, if you speak to a CIO, they will have their own wish list. Among the top things CIOs wish CMOs knew about their role include:

  1. Why some marketing requests take longer to fulfill
  2. IT’s contributions to delivering stellar digital marketing customer experiences
  3. That they are just as focused on people as they are on technology

By listening to each other and better understanding one another’s needs, CMOs and CIOs are in a unique position to enhance their level of expertise. CMOs will become better educated about how CIOs think and approach technology, while CIOs will be able to chart a clearer path toward marketing success.

Together, I believe that CMOs and CIOs will continue to innovate to bring the customer experience to the next level. Through open communication and a shared agenda, CMOs and CIOs are well positioned to drive business growth and improve outcomes. This budding relationship will be an essential pillar of the business world—and the customer journey— now and well into the future.


Michael Collins is Senior Vice President of Marketing & Learner Acquisition at Pearson. Prior to Pearson, Michael was Managing Director and CMO for CFA Institute. Michael’s worldwide team of 125 people align centralized global strategy with regional marketing execution. 

He has led marketing teams in multimillion- and billion-dollar organizations, driving steady growth and profit through visionary marketing strategy and disciplined execution.

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