Forrester Research puts the onus on the CIO to respond faster to business needs. Additionally, Forrester advises companies to "create formal, hybrid-skills groups, or digital centers of excellence, which draw on skills and expertise from IT, application development, digital strategy, digital marketing, communications, customer support, and even project management." (For more Forrester tips, check out CIOs and CMOs Must Work Together to Satisfy Customers.)
Can't They Just Get Along?
Cochrane says he believes the IT-business relationship boils down to the CIO and CMO and their ability to work together. In order to maintain a healthy relationship, Cochrane meets with the CIO every week. They sit in on each other's staff meetings once a month, with Cochrane explaining the thinking behind marketing's outlandish requests to the IT staff, and the CIO telling the marketing staff why some requests are taking long to fulfill.
The CIO and CMO also travel to technology and marketing conferences together. They listen to and participate in the same discussions. They want to learn about the other's craft and gain insight into their different perspectives. They want to build a level of familiarity and trust. They want to help each other. In other words, they work hard at the relationship.
Still, problems arise.
"I've caught myself numerous times wanting to do an end-run-around IT," Cochrane admits. He says working for a technology company can be more a curse than a blessing. "Having deep knowledge of technology isn't good. Sometimes I know too much to basically say, I can do this myself. But I stop myself because I know I'm going to hit a wall six months later when I want to do the next thing."
Knowing what not to do can be just as important. Some companies wanting to fix a dysfunctional IT-marketing relationship throw staff together in an open space. The thinking is that physical proximity leads to greater collaboration. But Cochrane says that's a recipe for disaster. Just imagine marketers in the ecstasy of the creative process surrounded by a bunch of frowning-faced IT programmers trying to code — neither would perform well.
Lastly, Cochrane advises CIOs and CMOs not to fall back into the old habits that derailed relationships in the past. "If there's a disagreement, just pick up the phone" and call your counterpart, he says. "Don't go to the CEO, don't bring it up at a budget meeting, don't throw anyone under the bus."
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