CMOs and CIOs: Who's Driving the Digital Marketing Bus?

The following article, which appeared on the Forbes.com website earlier this month, explores the ongoing shift in the balance of budgetary and decision-making power from CIOs to CMOs - and highlights the need for marketing and branding executives to expand their role and work more closely with IT to achieve their company's marketing goals.

The chief marketing officer is now in control of IT marketing spend. A few years ago it might have been the CIO but no longer, to hear the industry tell it.

"The era of the CMO is now here," Larry Bowden, vice president of portals and web experience with IBM told me a few weeks ago. The CMO is, it is now widely assumed, best able to determine what technology will once and for all identify what customers really truly want, what trends are lurking below the horizon that will affect the company and, for good measure, the meaning of life.

Trefis also confirms this shift: it recently reported in a Seeking Alpha blog post that a key change in the cloud-based software landscape "is that more software sales are being driven by marketing and IT spending is no longer restricted to IT departments of a company."

And that, the post continued, is the main reason for Salesforce.com's entry into the marketing software space: "The company expects much of its software expenses coming from marketing departments and the focus of this software division has been shifting from technology departments to the chief marketing officer's departments."

Yet in a new IBM report there are disconcerting signs that marketing professionals are not feeling very confident in their ability to navigate this brave new world.

The report, Marketing science: From descriptive to prescriptive, found that out of a survey of 358 marketing professionals, only 23 percent claimed to be highly effective at uncovering new insights to generate additional business value. Only 25 percent claimed to be highly effective at identifying and capturing new markets. And only 32 percent claimed to be highly effective at engaging with individual customers.

At the same time, the report also noted, most marketers are under intense pressure to show tangible returns on the money they spend. In fact, the report concluded, nearly two-thirds of CMOs expect return on marketing investment to be the primary measure of their effectiveness by 2015.


Erika Morphy is a contributor to Forbes online. She is based in Silver Spring, Md.

Published: April 17th, 2013

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