News/ Market Research

New PwC Study Quantifies Importance Of CMO-CIO Relationship

by Giselle Abramovich
Senior & Strategic Editor

See More by this author >

Article Highlights:

  • The importance of blending IT and marketing has never been as apparent as it is today.
  • It is by no means a relationship if marketing is just handing off its IT problems to the tech folks.
  • The implication for CMOs is: “Don’t go at it alone."

Marketing’s new mandate is to work closely with IT. We’ve heard about it for the past couple of years, anecdotally. But now a new study by PwC quantifies the importance of the relationship between the CMO and the CIO, finding that the most successful companies—in terms of revenue growth, profitability, and innovation—are placing a big emphasis on the marriage of marketing and technology.

PwC’s “Sixth Annual Digital IQ Survey” found five commonalities among the most successful companies:

  1. The CEO is an active champion for digital technology.
  2. The best of the best all look outside the enterprise for good ideas—not just inside.
  3. All of the best performers invest in evolving the IT platform and infrastructure to adapt to digital and emerging technology.
  4. They all have an enterprise view of their digital investments.
  5. There’s strength in the CMO/CIO relationship.

The survey was conducted in the fall of 2013 and reports findings based on 1,494 respondents from 36 countries. Answers were aggregated into five regions and 11 industries. Respondents were evenly divided between IT and business leaders. Two-thirds of respondents work in organizations with revenues of $1 billion or greater, and 37 percent have revenues greater than $5 billion.

According to PwC, 70 percent of top-performing companies say they have a strong CIO-CMO relationship, compared with just 45 percent for non-top performers. Chris Curran, principal and chief technologist for PwC’s advisory practice, told that a true relationship between IT and marketing means that the heads of both of those business units are meeting frequently to collaborate on how they can tackle some of the issues that the company is having. It is by no means a relationship if marketing is just handing off its IT problems to the tech folks.

“My observation and belief around this [idea of a CMO/CIO relationship] is that both parties benefit,” Curran told “One of our clients is an insurance company, and the CMO and CIO meet frequently to talk about product innovation, opportunities in the market, what other companies are doing, and they explore investments in technology. This type of working relationship is key.”

Interestingly, Curran said, in some organizations the head of marketing will hire a chief marketing technology officer (CMTO), rather than work closer with IT. The hire is made—a lot of the time—without the CIO’s input, which steps on IT’s toes. According to Curran, for one PwC client, the CMO’s hire of a CMTO without input from IT has resulted in a very stressful, antagonistic environment in which the CMO is trying to make his mark on the company by making technology decisions without the engagement of the CIO.

“A lot of [CMOs and CIOs] are grappling with the challenge of how to work collaboratively without creating barriers and conflict,” Curran said. “The key is process. Marketing and IT need to map the process to create, manage, and measure a campaign or program, for example, and figure out who is best-suited to support and who is best-suited to drive each step. There’s a lot of opportunity, for example, for IT to be included in the vendor conversations.”

The implication for CMOs is: “Don’t go at it alone,” Curran said. CMOs need to be proactive in getting the help of IT, he told And while many marketers, according to Curran, have a historic frustration with IT (in terms of speed and control), the importance of blending IT and marketing has never been as apparent as it is today.

Check out PwC’s CMO/CIO snapshot, which takes a deep dive into the imperative relationship between marketing and technology. 

About Giselle Abramovich

Giselle Abramovich is senior & strategic editor at Previously she wrote for outlets including Direct Marketing News, Mobile Marketer, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Daily, and Digiday. Reach her at, or follow her on Twitter @GAbramovich.