Sailboat on the Horizon

CIO vs CMO? That Boat’s Already Sailed!

Sailboat on the HorizonIn his recent commentary on the CXO vs CIO debate, Jim Metzler said this is a “gut check time” for CIOs. “CIOs absolutely must create a strategy that enables their organization to take a leadership role in strategic initiatives such as mobile commerce and big data. If they don’t, . . . IT doesn’t matter.”

Unfortunately, I think that boat has already sailed and IT must reinvent itself. I’m also unconvinced that leadership, as opposed to advisor/enabler, know versus no, is the right term, although that might just be semantics.

Depending upon whose numbers you use — including those for Shadow IT (cockroach technology) — if the bulk of IT budgets are not already controlled by everybody but the CIO, then they will be in the near future. Last year Gartner predicted that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO, while IDC expected that line-of-business executives will control 40% of IT spending by 2016.

Those are the good numbers. Gartner has also predicted that, by 2020, 90% of IT budgets will be controlled outside of IT, and Forrester says IT could be obsolete by then.

In December’s web conference IDC Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) 2014 Predictions: The Emergence of the Chief ‘Something-or-Other’, the research giant said innovative CMO and CIO pairs will throw out the rule book when it comes to IT’s support of marketing. “IDC predicts that by 2020, marketing organizations will be radically reshaped,” said Kathleen Schaub, Vice President of the IDC CMO Advisory Service. “The core fabric of marketing execution will be ripped up and rewoven by data and marketing technology.”

According to the recent IBM CMO study — 1,734 CMOs, spanning19 industries and 64 countries — 80% anticipate a high or very high level of complexity over the next five years, but only half feel ready to handle it. They see four challenges as pervasive, universal game-changers: the data explosion, social media, proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics.

The numbers quoted are staggering. World export flows have soared from $7.9 trillion to $18.9 trillion in current U.S. dollars over the past ten years; Facebook now has more than 750 million active users, for example, and the average user posts 90 pieces of content a month; Twitter’s registered users send about 140 million tweets a day; and YouTube’s 490 million users upload more video content in a 60-day period than the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years

If CMOs are facing unprecedented change, what about the poor CIO? A new study from Gartner reports that most CIOs feel overwhelmed by the prospect of building digital leadership while renovating the core of IT infrastructure and capability for the digital future.

Just over half (51%) of the 2,339 CIOs surveyed are concerned that the digital torrent is coming faster than they can cope, and 42% don’t feel that they have the talent needed to face this future. “2014 must be a year of significant change if CIOs are to help their businesses and public sector agencies remain relevant in an increasingly digital world,” said Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

“2014 will be a year of dual goals: responding to ongoing needs for efficiency and growth, but also shifting to exploit a fundamentally different digital paradigm. Ignoring either of these is not an option,” said Aron. “CIOs are facing all the challenges they have for many years, plus a flood of digital opportunities and threats. Digitalization raises questions about strategy, leadership, structure, talent, financing and almost everything else.” This is both a CIO’s dream come true and a career-changing leadership challenge, he stated.

Looking ahead, IBM’s CMOs identified three key areas for improvement: they must understand and deliver value to empowered customers; create lasting relationships with those customers; and measure marketing’s contribution to the business in relevant, quantifiable terms. If CIOs aren’t doing everything they can to facilitate these requirements, then they, like the boat — or their employers — won’t be around very long.

Image credit: Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel (flickr) / CC BY-ND

About the author
Steve Wexler
Steve is a proficient IT journalist, editor, publisher, and marketing communications professional. For the past two-plus decades, he has worked for the world’s leading high-technology publishers. Currently a contributor to Network Computing, Steve has served as editor and reporter for the Canadian affiliates of IDG and CMP, as well as Ziff Davis and UBM in the U.S. His strong knowledge of computers and networking technology complement his understanding of what’s important to the builders, sellers and buyers of IT products and services.