Worlds Collide: The New Data-Focused CMOs and Their CIO Counterparts

Role of CMO is Morphing to Embrace Technology

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Sheryl Pattek, Forrester Research
Sheryl Pattek, Forrester Research

In 10 years, there will be 50 billion industrial machines connected to the internet, predicts Stephen Liguori, executive director-global innovation and new models at GE. The 123-year-old firm calls it the "industrial internet" and it's the next wave of the consumer-focused internet of things connecting everyday products to data-collecting platforms.

The phenomenon is a ways off but GE is working to generate technology that collects and parses data to create greater efficiencies for businesses such as aviation, health care and "for folks that work in the power grid," said Mr. Liguori, speaking yesterday afternoon at the Ad Age Marketing and Technology Summit at Internet Week in New York.

Mr. Liguori joined a host of other marketers to discuss the new tech- and data-driven CMO and the increasing need for CMOs to work in tandem with CIOs to manage the vast swaths of data generated int his new era.

Nationwide CMO Matthew Jauchius, who works closely alongside CIO Michael Keller, offered a glimpse of what tomorrow's marketer looks like. The company spent $100 million to build an integrated database platform for storing and analyzing CRM, sales and other data that was previously stored in disparate places. Mr. Jauchius and Mr. Keller worked together on development of the platform, completed in 2012.

Data should be an "enterprise asset" not a "departmental asset," stressed Mr. Jauchius.

Marketers should have a plan for IT, said Sheryl Pattek, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, adding that CMOs must be involved in vetting technology vendors, historically a job for the CIO that marketers ignored. Marketing execs should "step up and own that infrastructure," she told the audience.

The CMO-CIO connection is manifesting in a variety of ways. For Eric Pearson, the CIO at InterContinental Hotels Group, that means rethinking the role to better reflect the importance of technology when it comes to the customer experience. Mr. Pearson was the hotel firm's CMO before being named CIO.

"I firmly believe that technology is such a commercial enabler of the business," he said, noting that the commercial experience he gained as CMO is helping him achieve that with his technology purview.

Perhaps the meaning of CIO should reflect the new reality, continued Mr. Pearson, suggesting it could stand for chief integration officer, chief insight officer or chief innovation officer.

"At IHG I've been putting a little bit of marketing into technology and helping educate them in the importance of marketing," said Mr. Pearson. "Having them attend marketing conferences, reading marketing collateral."

Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-marketing and IT at Motorola Solutions, had his own twist on the evolving relationship between marketing and IT. The former CMO of Motorola Solutions in January was elevated to a role into which marketing and IT report. About 18% to 20% of his company's marketers work in technology these days, said Mr. Conrado.

To truly wrap their heads around technology, marketers might consider learning to code -- at least enough to understand its possibilities, said Razorfish CEO Bob Lord and CTO Ray Valez. They pointed to online opportunities for such development, such as Coursera or Udemy.

"That's actually a great, great, great suggestion," affirmed GE's Mr. Liguori.

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