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The CMO’s new best friends: CIO and CFO

As CMOs look to define strategy, show the business value of marketing and implement new up-and-coming technologies into business practices, they're no longer working in a silo. Rather, CMOs are working hand-in-hand with IT and finance teams to deliver a higher return on marketing efforts.

In the past, the CMO wasn’t always viewed in an equal playing field with the CEO, CFO and CIO, but marketers are gaining traction in the C-suite. They're increasingly seen as game changers as customer experience and data analytics take center stage in business operations.

“A big benefit to marketers is the growing level of collaboration and interaction with functional heads and line-of-business leaders," Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, tells CMSWire. "This is giving marketing more weight in strategic decision-making and also ensuring organizational alignment around the customer experience given marketing increasing ownership of customer data and insight."

As marketing teams expand, CMOs have responsibilities outside of the typical “marketing” wheelhouse. Here’s where they’re focusing their attention, according to CMO Council’s “State of Marketing” report:

  • Strategic planning and forecasting: 74%
  • Branding: 71%
  • Digital: 68%
  • Budgeting and mix modeling: 68%
  • Market research: 67%

To adjust to new responsibilities and deliver better results, CMOs are partnering with other C-level execs, namely the CIO and CFO. When insurance giant USAA formed a partnership between its CMO, CFO and Chief Data Analytics officer, the company claims it had better business intel. “As USAA developed into a data-driven organization, we were able to accurately predict the impact of different marketing investment decisions,” says Roger Adams, CMO at USAA. “It’s completely reframed the conversation.”

IT and marketing meet in the middle

Brands are delivering more intimate and personal messaging to customers, in large part because they can translate customer data into insights and actions. The marketing team is the frontrunner in receiving customer data and using it in a productive way, but often the CMO calls on the CIO to help understand what those numbers mean.

“Every company that succeeds in the future is one that focuses on the customer experience. So who better than a chief marketing officer, or chief customer officer, to now actually oversee this integration of software and human thinking for the benefit of connecting with customers in a more effective way?” Larry Weber, author of “The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric,” tells CFO World.

With the rise of marketing automation software, sometimes marketers don’t know what option is the best choice based on the company’s existing software and IT infrastructure. For IT and marketing folks to be able to talk about the needs of both departments, IT needs to understand the marketing goals, and marketing needs to understand the basics of coding and web development, Weber says.

“The CMO is an educator around the importance of data and analytics, what needs to be protected, what doesn't need to be protected,” he says. “And then the CIO has to know what software's available to help meet the rules that have been determined.”

Financial analysis proves the value of marketing

Like every other department, marketing has to prove its value to increase its budgets and make a case for more marketing hires. By pointing to revenue and leads generated, the CMO can prove the value of his efforts. In a cross-team conversation, C-level executives create a common language to talk about budgets and ROI by analyzing financial results.

To show marketing’s impact on sales, Intel formed a marketing ROI team with employees from marketing and finance and reshaped its research team to focus on analytics and strategy, according to Harvard Business Review. The combination of these two organizational changes enables the marketing team to have the insights to show marketing performance and revenue.

Departments working in silos may have cut it in the past, but in today’s competitive market where all business operations are integrated, teams must collaborate. Upon doing so, they’ll realize new opportunities for business growth and improvements.

Image via Can Stock Photo

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