CIO vs. CMO: Who Owns What?

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Mar 5, 2024
In the digital age, the roles of CIO and CMO are increasingly intersecting. In this blog we'll make a quick overview of these evolving roles, shared responsibilities, potential conflicts, and how they can work together effectively.

In the digital age, the roles of Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) are increasingly intersecting. In this article we’ll do a quick overview of CIO vs. CMO. We’ll explore these evolving roles, shared responsibilities, potential conflicts, and how they can work together effectively:

  • CIOs are now more involved in business strategy, ensuring technology aligns with company goals, and managing data for insights.
  • CMOs use technology to understand customer needs better, personalize marketing efforts, and manage online presence.
  • Shared Responsibilities: Both roles collaborate on customer data strategy, digital customer experience, and adopting emerging technologies.
  • Potential Conflicts: Differences in technology investment priorities, balancing data security with personalization, and technical vs. creative mindsets can cause friction.
  • Best Practices for Collaboration: Include aligning on strategic vision, improving communication flows, and clarifying data governance policies.

By understanding each other’s strengths and working together, CIOs and CMOs can drive digital success and create seamless customer experiences.

The Business-Focused CIO

CIOs aren’t just the IT folks anymore. Their job has grown to include things like:

  • Picking tech that helps the whole business do better
  • Making sure new tech is safe and doesn’t pose risks
  • Turning all the collected data into useful advice for making better business choices
  • Choosing tech that makes customers happy

CIOs are now focused on using tech not just to keep things running, but to help the business grow.

CIO vs. CMO: Shared Responsibilities

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As technology becomes a bigger part of how businesses work and how they connect with customers, CIOs (the tech bosses) and CMOs (the marketing bosses) are finding they need to work together more. Here’s a look at the main areas where they both need to have a say:

Customer Data Strategy

Marketing people need to know a lot about their customers to make good ads and campaigns. Tech people handle the systems that store and analyze this data. To do this well, they need to:

  • Use one system for all customer data to avoid confusion
  • Make rules for collecting and using data responsibly
  • Find and use important data sources
  • Create tools to find useful information in the data
Digital Customer Experience

Customers use various online ways to interact with businesses and they expect a smooth experience across all of them. To make this happen, it needs:

  • Marketing to design the customer journey
  • IT to provide the tech needed
  • Both to look after new ways to engage customers
  • Agreeing on how to measure success
Emerging Technologies

New tech like AI (Artificial Intelligence), VR (Virtual Reality), and IoT (Internet of Things) bring new possibilities and challenges. Marketing looks at how these can be used, while IT takes care of making them work. Working closely together, they can:

  • Test new ideas that match business goals
  • Look at risks, costs, and what’s needed
  • Try out these ideas in small tests
  • Use them more widely if they work well

With tech now a big part of marketing and connecting with customers, CIOs and CMOs sharing ideas and responsibilities helps businesses do better.

CIO vs. CMO: Potential Sources of Conflict

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Technology Investment Priorities

CIOs and CMOs often don’t see eye to eye when it comes to spending money on new tech. CIOs want to keep costs down and make sure new tools work well with what the company already has. CMOs, on the other hand, are always looking for the latest and greatest tools to help with marketing. This can lead to arguments about where to spend the budget.

For instance, a CMO might want a fancy new system to better understand and reach customers. But the CIO might think it’s too expensive and suggest improving what they already have. If they don’t work together from the start, they might end up with a messy setup that costs more than it should.

To avoid this, CIOs and CMOs need to talk things through early on. They should agree on what’s most important and how to measure if it’s working. This way, they can pick tools that meet marketing needs without causing tech headaches.

Data Security vs. Personalization

CMOs love using customer data to make their messages more personal. But CIOs have to make sure this doesn’t put customer information at risk. If they’re too strict, marketing can’t do its job well. But being too relaxed can lead to serious security problems.

The key is to talk openly. CMOs should explain why personal touches are so important. CIOs can then help figure out how to do this safely, like making sure customer data is locked up tight and only used in the right way. Working together, they can use data smartly and keep it safe.

Technical vs. Creative Mindsets

CIOs and CMOs often think differently. CIOs like to take their time and think things through, focusing on the tech side. CMOs are all about trying new ideas quickly, even if everything isn’t perfect yet. This can make working together tough, especially on big projects like improving how customers interact with the company online.

To get along better, both sides need to try to see where the other is coming from. CIOs should understand that being fast and trying new things is part of good marketing. CMOs need to remember that sometimes tech limits what you can do right away. Talking openly and mixing teams can help everyone get along and do better work together.

CIO vs. CMO: Best Practices for Collaboration 

Align on Strategic Vision

The CIO and CMO need to sit down together and figure out a game plan. This includes:

  • Deciding on the main goals and what they want to achieve
  • Planning out how technology will play a role over the next few years
  • Setting up ways to measure if things are working

By agreeing on these big points early on, the CIO and CMO can make sure tech projects help with marketing and push the business forward.

Improve Communication Flows

To work well together, the CIO and CMO teams need to talk regularly:

  • Set regular meetings – Have weekly or monthly catch-ups to go over what’s happening, any problems, and progress.
  • Mix teams – Put IT and marketing people together in groups to work on digital projects.
  • Share tools – Use the same calendars, files, and project software so everyone knows what’s going on.

Talking often and sharing information helps everyone understand each other better.

Clarify Data Governance Policies

The CIO and CMO should make clear rules about data:

  • Data security – Make sure there are strong rules to keep customer data safe.
  • Data access – Set up easy ways for the marketing team to get to data they need.
  • Compliance rules – Check that using data for marketing follows all the legal rules.

Having clear data rules helps with making marketing more personal while keeping everything secure and legal.

CIO vs. CMO: Case Studies of Effective Partnerships

Working together, the tech bosses (CIOs) and the marketing bosses (CMOs) can really help a business do better. Here are two real-life stories where this teamwork made a big difference:

Capital One

At Capital One, the CIO and CMO teamed up on tech and data projects, and here’s what happened:

  • Online sales went up by 30%
  • More people used the mobile app, with logins increasing by 40% in a year

They introduced new digital tools for customers and made their ads and offers more personal by using data smarter.


Starbucks’ CIO and CMO worked together on making their loyalty program and mobile app better, which led to:

  • A 25% jump in active rewards members
  • A 50% rise in mobile orders over two years

By mixing tech know-how with marketing smarts, they made shopping at Starbucks easier and more fun for customers.

These stories show that when CIOs and CMOs get along and use each other’s strengths, they can really help their company do well. It’s all about working together, breaking down walls between departments, and focusing on what customers want.

CIO vs. CMO: Key Takeaways

When CIOs (the tech bosses) and CMOs (the marketing bosses) work together well, companies can really shine in the digital world. By mixing their tech smarts and creative ideas, they can make customers happy and help the business grow.

Blending Skillsets for Digital Success

Tech and marketing are coming together. CIOs are now using tech and data to help the business in big ways, not just keeping the computers running. CMOs, on the other hand, are using tech to connect with customers.

They need to work closely to use each other’s strong points:

  • CIOs know a lot about tech, managing data, and planning things out.
  • CMOs are great at coming up with creative ideas, understanding what customers want, and moving quickly to try new things.

By working together, they can avoid problems like spending money on things that don’t work well together.

Prioritizing Seamless Customer Experiences

Customers today want to interact with businesses easily, whether it’s on a phone, computer, or in person, and they want it to feel the same across all these ways.

To make this happen, CIOs and CMOs need to:

  • Use systems that help manage customer relationships and automate marketing in a smart way
  • Make sure websites and mobile apps work well together
  • Use data to make shopping or using services feel more personal
  • Try out new tech like AI or VR to make things more interesting for customers

Working together makes sure the tech side supports what customers see and do.

Instilling a Shared Vision via Open Communication

For these projects to work out, CIOs and CMOs must talk openly and plan together.

They should:

  • Make plans that link tech buys to what the business wants to achieve
  • Have regular meetings to make sure everyone understands what’s going on
  • Set clear rules about how to use and protect customer data

This way, they can turn their digital plans into real success stories.

Related Questions

What is the difference between a CMO and a CIO?

The CMO is all about getting to know customers and finding ways to grow through marketing. They use strategies like ads and social media. The CIO handles all the tech stuff, making sure the company has the tools it needs. They work on keeping data safe and making sure everything runs smoothly. When they team up, they can use customer info to make better marketing plans and improve customer service. Talking and working together is super important.

Who does the CMO manage?

The CMO looks after the marketing team. This includes:

  • Coming up with brand ideas and campaigns
  • Managing products and what content goes out
  • Handling ads and special deals
  • Learning what customers like and don’t like
  • Helping the sales team do better
  • Making sure customers have a good experience
  • Keeping track of money and working with other companies for marketing needs

They lead a bunch of marketing people, making sure everyone is working together.

Is CMO higher than director?

Yes, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is higher up than a Marketing Director. The CMO is part of the big boss group and oversees all marketing stuff. Marketing Directors focus on certain parts like managing social media or making sure emails get sent out.

What is the difference between a chief innovation officer and a chief marketing officer?

The Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) works on making new products or services and finding cool new ways to do things. They look into the latest tech and help the company try out new ideas.

The CMO works on more traditional marketing stuff like making sure people know about the company, putting out ads, figuring out what people want, and keeping customers interested. They’re not as focused on making new things but use info on what customers like to help make new products better.

CIOs and CMOs should work together to make sure new inventions are something customers will like. The CIO comes up with new stuff, and the CMO figures out how to tell people about it.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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