The Digital CMO/ General Management

CMO And CIO, It Takes Two To Create Competitive Differentiation


by Vijayanta Gupta
Head of Product & Industry Marketing and Industry Strategy
Adobe Systems Europe

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While browsing through a few weeks back, the article “The Power Of A Great Marketing-IT Relationship” caught my eye. Published by Computerworld and written by Gartner, the article makes the point that in the next five years, the CMO might have a bigger slice of the IT budget than the CIO. It also articulates the benefits of stronger CMO-CIO collaboration for leveraging the changing digital landscape.

This is neither the first article that has been written on this topic, nor will it be the last. There will be many more. This trend will be more prominent in certain industries, such as retail, more than the others. However, it is a certainty that CMO-CIO alignment will be one of the key organizational trends to watch over the coming years across industries.

We all know that technology is becoming increasingly critical for marketers. As marketers begin to understand the big impact of big data on their enterprises, and as they rely more on digital channels not only for sales, but also for understanding and predicting consumer behavior, they have to get comfortable with the technology that enables them to do that. At the same time, technologists have to become comfortable with the unique demands and requirements of marketing vis-à-vis other functions, such as HR, finance, and sales.

If not managed properly, this cross-pollination of skills, as well as cross-functional collaboration, can very easily turn into an internal land grab. To avoid that, CEOs need to put CMO-CIO alignment on their agendas and put special emphasis on getting the marketing and IT balance right in their organizations. There are many foundational pillars for achieving the Holy Grail of “inimitable competitive differentiation” that every CEO craves for–and, increasingly, in most industries, exploiting the combined power of marketing and IT is fast becoming one of those pillars.

On a separate but, as it turns out, related note, earlier this week Adobe published its 2012 holiday season daily sales predictions and insights. Created by the Adobe Digital Index team, this predictive analysis is based on more than 150 billion online visits to more than 500 retail Web sites across the U.S. and Europe over the past six years. Some of the insights identified in this report are:

  • Prediction of a record-sett­ing $2 billion Cyber Monday, growing by 18% over 2011.
  • European consumers are expected to start holiday shopping sooner and finish later than their U.S. counterparts. While online sales in the U.S. do not pick up significantly until Black Friday, European retailers were seeing average daily sales increase by 150% the first week of November and will see a similar spike immediately following Christmas.
  • Social media referrals to retail Web sites this holiday season is projected to double compared to last year, and referrals from Pinterest is expected to grow the most, doubling from 7% to 14% YoY.
  • Mobile is expected to represent 21% of total online sales during the 2012 holiday season. Sales from mobile devices are projected to increase 110% compared to last year, with sales from tablets constituting 13.5% of total sales, more than double that of smartphones (6.5%) and other devices, such as e-readers (1%).

I can keep going on about the interesting insights that have been published. I would strongly encourage you to check out the report, as well as the interactive graph that provides daily updates to actual sales vs. predicted sales.

This kind of predictive analytics does not happen by magic–whether it is across 500 organizations or just one, it requires a well-choreographed tango between marketers and technologists. In fact, predictive analytics that create inimitable competitive differentiation requires a level of collaboration between CMO and CIO that has not been necessitated before in the history of many organizations.

To leverage the big impact of big data, big collaboration between marketing and IT is required. This, among others, is one of the very key reasons for CEOs to put CMO-CIO alignment on their agendas, preferably much higher up than where it is today.

Read Gupta's previous blog, "Personalization: What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Enterprise Sales."

Personalization: What Digital Marketers Can Learn From Enterprise Sales

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About Vijayanta Gupta

Vijayanta Gupta is the head of product and industry marketing and industry strategy at Adobe Systems Europe. He leads Adobe’s industry-specific go-to-market initiatives, as well as the Adobe Marketing Cloud product marketing initiatives across Europe and the Middle-East. and Africa regions. Gupta and his team advises senior executives across industries on their digital strategies, and their perspectives on digital transformation are regularly published. Prior to joining Adobe, Gupta has held multiple leadership roles in Accenture, Microsoft, and Tata Consultancy Services across the UK/Europe, USA, and India. He holds an MBA in Strategic Marketing, a Master's in Computer Applications, a Bachelor's in Physics, and a Senior Diploma in Fine Arts. Gupta is based out of London and thoroughly enjoys the multicultural experience that the city provides.

The thoughts and points mentioned in this blog are his and not necessarily the perspective of Adobe.