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5 Takeaways from a Conversation Between a CMO and a CIO


DATA-DRIVEN CMO is an ongoing series on the Brooks Bell Blog that focuses on topics for the modern day data-driven CMO.

Last month, Michael Krigsman and Vala Afshar spoke with Steve Mann, the CMO of LexisNexis, and Phil Komarny, the CIO of Seton Hill University, as part of their CxO Talk series.

Two people working together

It’s a great conversation on the roles of CMOs and CIOs, as well as ideas on how they can work together. While the prevalent theme with these types of interactions is always touted as a Clash of the Titans or a boxing match, this is a great highlight of ways to work together.

Here’s the recording of the conversation:

After hearing this conversation, I have one quick point and then three specific takeaways.

For business to evolve, these types of conversations between CMOs and CIOs need to happen more often and more frequently.

Takeaway 1: Don’t spend time training on complex systems when the end user only uses a small portion of it. Build applications that are appropriate.

This was said by Phil Komarny in regards to the applications that Seton Hill University built over their ERP systems, which created ways for students and faculty to extract the data they needed through dashboards and mobile devices.

This is a fantastic example of how a CIO can maintain control over data security while providing the tools that other departments (including marketing) need in order to access the data.

Takeaway 2: Be social first, not mobile first.

I’m not sure if “social” is the absolute right word, but I like where Steve Mann was going with this. His point is that as a marketer, it is more important to look at all channels, but be “more concerned with the engagement model than the consumption device.”

This means the IT department needs to be well versed on the latest devices and consumption channels, and advise on the best ways to implement marketing campaigns.

Takeaway 3: CMOs can very easily circumvent IT. It’s up to the IT department to be collaborative.

This is a very important statement, and one that very few CIOs admit. It was refreshing to hear Phil Komarny actually call out some IT departments by saying “some of them deserve it!”

We hear this time and time again: marketing wants to circumvent IT. This is the first time I’ve heard someone from IT admit that it’s sometimes their fault.

Takeaway 4: Leadership maturity is the key to transparency.

Effective collaboration is only possible with transparency—and that is only possible if leadership is willing to openly share failures to learn as a team and drive innovation within the organization.

I know this is easier said than done, but egos need to be checked at the door.

Takeaway 5: CIOs must be able to engage people.

Communication is key. Being able to engage peers like a CMO, and show how IT is a value-engine, can yield great results.

BONUS: Stay relevant by learning every day.

This one may be met with a big “Well, duh!” But the question was asked, “How can you be a relevant CIO if you aren’t a social CIO?” This shouldn’t be limited to just the CIO. The entire organization needs to think like customers, consumers and users in order to be relevant in the changing landscape of business.

I am pretty excited to have found this CxO Talk series, and I look forward to watching more of them in the future.