Ask The Beatles. Or Joe Cocker. The best way to get by is with a little help from your friends.

There’s no question the CIO’s job description is expanding under the organizational imperative to “Be Digital.” Part of this expansion comes with the broad shifts that are taking place in the CIO’s relationships with internal stakeholders, including with the chief strategy officer, chief sales officer, CFO, and COO.

Stronger C-suite support is sure to bolster the CIO’s ability to enhance business performance by demonstrating digital’s transformative capacity and implementing such transformation.

But there’s still work to be done. Recently I called for a change in the dynamic between the CIO and CEO. The perception of poor CEO support was a key finding of a Cognizant survey  of 200 North American CIOs and IT leaders in the banking, insurance, healthcare, and life sciences industries in late 2015.

But there’s another critical area where respondents reported a shift toward a new and more effective dynamic is well underway—with the chief marketing officer. Many respondents say they’re joining forces with their marketing counterparts to collaborate on digital transformation.

The majority agreed this is because a focus on the best possible customer experience is where CIO and CMO responsibilities intersect. Given the degree to which customer experience expectations are shaped by the technology that pervades our personal lives, such collaboration is a competitive necessity.

44_content_graphsMarketing is becoming increasingly digital and data-driven, since digital technologies also provide access to the customer’s “Code Halo”—the digital data that accumulates around people, processes, organizations, and devices. In turn, this enables the gathering of meaningful insights from customers’ digital footprints.

This requires that marketing allows technology teams to play a central role in the development and commercialization of digital products and services. CMOs and their marketing teams must seek timely and elevated technology assistance from the CIO and technology leadership team—beyond the shadow IT environments that have proliferated throughout marketing and other functional areas.

Survey respondents also noted that since funding for digital initiatives often originates from the collective (but separately delineated) budgets of marketing IT and the CIO, tighter collaboration between the two organizations has become a practical necessity.

While the CIO and CMO should be co-architects of digital strategy, such coordination remains a work in progress at most companies. As the CIO of one company told us, “Today, CIOs are in a unique position to drive their organization’s approach to digital by virtue of having a cross-enterprise perspective. The role of CMO and CDO in our decision-making is mutual.”

To learn what respondents viewed as the top reasons for greater CIO-CMO alignment—and to better understand how the role of CIO is changing—read our report preview, “Being Digital: How and Why CIOs Are Reinventing Themselves for a New Age.”

Adithya Sastry

Adithya Sastry

Adithya Sastry is an Associate Vice-President within Cognizant’s Emerging Business Accelerator Unit, and is General Manager for the Internet of Things business,... Read more