How CIOs Can Win

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

While some media sources have posited that the marketing side is winning in the conflict between some chief information officers and chief marketing officers, the truth on the ground is a little bit different. While it’s true that marketing is becoming more and more related to information technology, the position of CIO still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

One of the key challenges that CMOs face is that they don’t last very long in their positions. For CMOs to succeed — and survive — they typically have to make changes to the organization that are fast and noticeable. This causes friction with traditional CIOs that typically prefer changes that are more gradual, preserving a company’s systems to both manage up-time and conserve their limited budgets. The solution isn’t just to create a go-between for the two positions: It’s to empower that person to find solutions that can both work quickly while also preserving the company’s IT infrastructure needs.

When the tension reaches a head, some companies turn to the chief digital officer. CDOs provide the big ideas that CIOs are perceived to lack. However, what the CDO really brings is a lack of understanding of how those ideas fit into the company’s existing infrastructure. Frequently, those ideas end up hitting a real roadblock when they need to be re-integrated into the company’s systems. 

CIOs frequently have the background to come up with big ideas while having the technical skills to implement them. What they sometimes lack is the money to follow through on the ideas and the ability to communicate them in a way that the rest of the C-suite can appreciate. The solution to this problem isn’t to add additional officers like CDOs or to empower the CMO to take over the CIOs job. Instead, it’s to give the CIO team members that can help him or her make business and financial cases for both new ideas and for the funding they will need to implement. This can help the CIO translate technical ideas to business imperatives.