Have you friended your chief marketing officer yet? If you’re like most CIOs, I’ll bet not. Being Best Friends Forever with the CMO is still a ways off your radar screen.

Your company’s marketing function might seem more like a faraway land of clueless, complaining users who don’t get (or particularly like) IT. So mostly ignoring them has so far been a reasonable strategy.

Then along comes social media. And like it or not, the game has changed. “IT knows the technology; marketing knows the customer,” says CIO Robert Urwiler of Vail Resorts. “It is a huge opportunity missed if IT and marketing are at odds.”

Vail Resorts is one of the compelling examples featured in our recent U.S. cover story (” Inside 4 Companies’ Facebook and Twitter Strategies.”), which delves into the new business demands and technology issues that are arising as companies venture into social media.

For starters, there is considerable confusion around how to use whatever data you derive from the social media stream. Beyond those half a billion people friending each other on Facebook, there are 80 million LinkedIn members and 106 million Twitter users, who shoot forth 55 million tweets a day. “The amount of data a CIO could glean from social media chatter could smother the typical corporate network,” Senior Editor Kim S. Nash writes.

Separating useful data from the deafening noise of millions of social users is clearly the business goal, says Todd Michaud, vice president of IT at Focus Brands. “The vision I have is, when you drill down on a record, it will show the person’s LinkedIn profile, Twitter stream, Facebook page-whatever I can get that’s public,” he says.

With the right integration tools (which don’t exist yet), social media data could paint a much more vivid picture of customers, which would allow marketing to fine-tune its efforts.

That’s where the CIO-CMO relationship matters most. Without one, social media projects spring up randomly and money gets wasted. In a recent study by Accenture and the CMO Council, only a tiny percentage of marketing executives or IT leaders felt their organizations were anywhere near ready to properly exploit digital marketing channels.

If that sounds like your company, then it’s time to get social with your CMO. Lunch is on you.



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