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CMO and CIO: New best friends forever

Editor's Note: Alisa Maclin was a speaker at the 2012 Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium on March 7-8, 2012.

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are swamped with data - 850M people on Facebook, 200M tweets a day 86% of consumers use multiple channels- everything is becoming instrumented, intelligent, interconnected through sensors, RFID tags, cameras, data recorders everywhere. 90% of the world’s data was created in the last 2 years – most of it unstructured. People trust their friends – and even strangers - on line more than brands and ‘experts’. They can champion a brand or sully a reputation with the click of a mouse.

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the Fusion 2012 CEO/CIO Symposium to discuss the evolving role of the CMO and implications for the CIO, based on the findings of IBM’s 2011 CMO Study launched last October. Based on the shifts in consumer behavior and expectations, the role of the CMO is changing – becoming more strategic, and accountable for creating new markets and driving growth though increasing insight and enhancing the customer experience. This is a huge opportunity for CMOs to understand, anticipate, serve and create advocacy for their customers – but a daunting one at the same time.

In this environment, businesses need to:
• Understand and anticipate customer behavior by listening to their customers and turning insight into action.
• Adapt their supply chain based on customer demand and orchestrate seamlessly among their trading partners and suppliers.
• Market, sell and fulfill the right product and service, at the right price, right time and place
• Service their customers flawlessly and learn from their behavior to predict and take action.

Then, all the insight gained needs to be funneled back into the business to better design and source products and services, optimize the supply chain, partner with suppliers and vendors, market and sell more effectively and delight customers – in a seamless cycle – at IBM we call this approach Smarter Commerce.
It is clear that marketing leaders must bring science to the art of marketing to meet the demands of the empowered consumer, and a strategic partnership between the CMO and CIO will be essential.

By fostering a closer relationship, CIO/CTO and CMOs can become better prepared to meet the challenges presented by the explosion of data and changes resulting from the growth of mobile and social computing. Close collaboration with the CIO/CTO provides the CMO with a partner who has a deep understanding of the organization and its long term interests.

Approaches some successful organizations are taking in this regard including joint steering committees for major marketing technology projects, co-chaired by the CMO and CIO, with shared business objectives. Other organizations are creating marketing specialties within their IT organizations, and in some cases co-locating their team with the marketing group.

Every CIO still has to deliver excellence in the fundamentals: the secure and reliable delivery of information technology. CIOs are uniquely positioned to help their organizations cope with the volatility and complexity of the twenty-first century— by generating valuable insight from data and serving as catalysts for innovation.

They help generate and have access to customer preference data, supply chain patterns, emerging trends—both within their organizations and from competitors—Internet behavior and response patterns, and so much more. Combining this data with marketing analytics can reveal previously undiscovered and unmet needs.

By communicating effectively with their colleagues, CIOs and CMOs can act on deep customer understanding by elevating the customer experience in unprecedented ways. These new best friends can take on the undesired complexity for customers an develop predictive intelligence capabilities that can fundamentally change business.

Here are some questions CMOs & CIO should consider to begin the dialogue:

• What projects would have faster time to value through collaboration and shared objectives between marketing and IT?
• How can we/are we capture(ing) customer data across the full customer lifecycle and across all customer interaction channels and devices, including online, offline and call centers?
• How can we/do we integrate, analyze – and act on all the data we collect about individual customers?
• How can IT and Marketing work together to provide better linkage across the functions so employees from both teams understand each other’s needs and drivers?

Alisa Maclin is vice president of marketing for IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, responsible for global marketing of IBM’s commerce related solution portfolio. As leader of Smarter Commerce marketing, Ms. Maclin is responsible for global marketing strategy and execution for IBM’s commerce related product and services portfolio, including over $3B in recent acquisitions. Alisa has over 20 years of marketing and sales leadership experience at IBM. Ms. Maclin lives in Irvine, California and holds a BA in Communications Studies from UCLA, and an MA in Communications Management from USC's Annenberg School for Communications.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WTN Media, LLC. WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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