As CMOs rise, where’s the CIO?

A lot has been written lately about the increasing power of chief marketing officers in making corporate technology decisions as they sign up cloud services.

They’re doing so because they complain IT departments can’t move fast enough in this era of social media  to keep up with the demand for new applications and keep ahead of competitors.

In many cases CIOs gracefully yield (last least part of) the stage. But when they do, what does that leave them left with?

In an interview for Computerworld U.S. on the debut of his new book, The Digital Marketer, author Larry Weber is asked about the role of the CIO, what the CMO should cede and why the CIO’s role won’t be diminishing.

There are two IT groups in organizations today, Weber argues: One that looks after infrastructure technologies like the cloud, energy monitoring, security, while the other has its eye on customer-focused software. The former needs a technologist to lead it.

“So, it’s not saying ‘CIOs, you’re losing something,’ it’s that, you’ve got to come a little this way, to understand the technologies that are available for the marketer to use, and the marketer has to understand the basics of coding, of development, of how you make websites and Web destinations richer and better, because ultimately, it all comes down to creating great digital environments. But the CMO has taken over so much more of an information role, because of the data and the analytics. IT and CIOs were not trained in data and analytics,” — although, Weber adds, “that’s not saying they couldn’t do it.”

The CIO’s job, he says, is to advise on purchases:  “That these software companies are of quality, what are the questions I should ask before we buy that kind of software, what kind of costs are we getting in for on a long-term basis? Also, is this data going to be secure? Where are the investments we’ve already made as a company in things that I should be aware of as we start being a major purchaser of marketing automation and different flavors of cloud?”

Interestingly, he suggests its the CMO’s role to decide what information should be protected, and CIO’s job is to know what software’s available to help meet the rules that have been determined.

Some might argue with that. If the organization is big enough, a privacy or governance officer (or committee) will have a hand in that. But the point is the CIO isn’t going to be shuffled into a corner.





Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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