Who Controls the Marketing Stack in 2019? The CIO or the CMO

March 1, 2019

The position of CIO is synonymous with taking charge of the technology in a business. But recent shifts in marketing demands means CMOs may actually be spending more on technology than CIOs. Who’s in charge, and how should organizations set up the defined lines of responsibilities for selecting, implementing and managing the use of these technologies? The key is building a partnership between marketing and IT.

How the CMO leads

CMOs’ IT spending is said to already outpace that of CIOs, according to a Gartner report. The reason for that is much marketing efforts have become a lot more data-driven, which translates into increasing need for IT services. However, not all those needs are going to be met by an organization’s IT department. The report also noted a movement toward externally sourced away marketing tech, often through SaaS.

In fact, according to the figures in Infotechlead, CMOs in the US alone are expected to invest more than $122 billion in martech and associated services by the year 2022, up from the estimated $90 billion spent in 2017. The marketing automation market is estimated to contribute $26 billion to that spending within the next three years.

CMOs already determine which martech to buy. offered some figures that show the current impact of tech driven by marketing needs:

  • Marketing bears responsibility for selecting and managing marketing service providers at 83 percent of enterprises.
  • Marketing chooses technology providers at 71 percent of companies.
  • Marketing has control of the budget for consulting and design of marketing-related software at 75 percent of companies and for purchasing software-as-a-service at 47 percent of enterprises.
  • At 43 percent of companies, marketing also controls the budget for external hosting of technology required to run any marketing-related software.

Generally, having the CMO direct the marketing tech works out quite well. According to the survey cited in Infotechlead among organizations that allow the CMO to set the pace for digital transformation, 62 percent report “double-digit growth, compared with 50 percent of respondents whose firm’s digital transformation is run by the CIO.”

The CIO’s role today

Allowing the CMO to lead in this way doesn’t mean that the CIO becomes less important, though. On the contrary, a Forbes report entitled “The Ascent of CIO” found that over 80 percent of CIOs consider their role to have become more important now. But they also realize that their role has evolved. No longer is their value defined strictly by their “technology know-how,” but by what they bring to the table with respect to strategic planning.

While CIOs still rank leadership as a primary attribute of the role, “partnering with others” is also up there.

One of the areas in which they have to partner is marketing. Current trends indicate that the successful companies are ones that will have the CMO leading the search for martech. They deliver the best experience for the firm’s customers and work with the CIO to find the most efficient and effective solution. It’s not a matter of the CMO making a unilateral purchasing decision, but of communicating what the marketing team needs to work with the CIO on making it happen.

Better together

The smart money appears to be on a collaboration between the CMO and CIO that brings them together through a shared interest in data and analytics while also capitalizing on the distinct strengths of each role. That means that while the CIO still works on the integration and implementation of the technological solution, the CMO would be the one who sets the goal for the martech. Working together, they can break through silos to effectively integrate data to extract the maximum from it and derive more accurate insight to inform marketing strategy. That will be the direction for successful companies in 2019.