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Should CMOs and CIOs Share the Same Budget?


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

Crimson Commanders

This is Tomax and Xamot, the feared twin brothers and Crimson Guard Commanders from the G.I. Joe cartoon series in the early 1980’s. According to their Wikipedia page:

The twin brothers are mirror images of each other; Tomax’s hair is parted on the right side of his head and Xamot’s on the left, the piping on their uniforms goes up the opposite side on each twin, and even their names are mirror images of one another. The only distinguishing mark between the two is a scar on Xamot’s right cheek. Tomax and Xamot share an empathic connection commonly known as “The Corsican Syndrome” in which identical twins are believed to be psychically bonded, in a manner similar to The Corsican Brothers. While this is often useful, as it allows them to communicate wordlessly and finish each other’s sentences, it is also a liability as they feel each other’s pain. 

I bring up these two brothers from my childhood because they remind me of a perfect relationship between a CMO and a CIO. A relationship where the CMO and the CIO share the same budget. Here are three reasons why:

1. The CMO and CIO should be able to finish each other’s sentences

A shared budget will force the CMO and the CIO to be comfortable speaking each other’s language. Gone are the days when a marketing department can just say “make it happen,” without knowing how it can happen and what factors contribute to its implementation timeframe. Equally faint in our memory are the times when a CIO could allocate resources without understanding the value the request has to its business. A CMO and a CIO who can finish each other’s sentences will create a cohesive message for the CEO.

2. The CMO and CIO should feel each other’s pain

Sharing pain is a great way to encourage collaboration. When the CMO and the CIO share accountability and pain, an opportunity is created for both departments to brainstorm together. This means the good and the bad: from budget cuts to layoffs to bonuses and promotions.

3. The CMO and the CIO should share the same goal

This is not to say that the lines should be blurred between the two roles and departments, but there should be a goal alignment between them. The Crimson Guard Commanders had a common goal: Destroy the Joes! Unfortunately, in most companies that same common goal is missing between the CMO and the CIO. Imagine a world where an employee could chat in the halls with either of the two and get the same answer! A shared budget would mean the activities and initiatives put forth by each department would have to be aligned.

What do you think? Is this the way innovative companies need to evolve?