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In years past the chief marketing officers and chief information officers had their own discrete functions to perform within the company -- with the twain rarely having to meet.

Clearly that is not true any more as digital marketing becomes a larger and larger component of a company's overall marketing operations. Despite this trend, CIOs and CMOs have not moved to anything approaching true collaboration, according to the findings of a Forrester/Forbes Insights survey. While progress has been made in establishing foundational aspects of trust, organizational skills and process, it concludes, "bold leadership is needed to turn this initial work into client results."

Small Steps Forward

Forrester and Forbes Insights queried some 308 marketing and tech management leaders this year, following similar surveys in 2011 and 2013.

This year's report, "CIOs And CMOs Must Turn Collaboration Into Action ($499 fee)," does show progress on some fronts.

For example, the survey found that 68 percent of technology management leaders and 62 percent of marketing leaders agreed that mutual respect has improved from 2013.

Also, 70 percent of tech management leaders and 59 percent of marketing leaders reported that they were regularly meeting to discuss strategic corporate goals, up by nine and 14 percentage points, respectively, from last year.

That said, more work is necessary to create true synergies between these two corporate functions. Indeed, the survey noted that some areas that seemed to be improving in previous surveys reversed themselves in this latest one.

For example, only 54 percent of marketing and tech management professionals believe that the necessary leadership is in place to support marketing technology strategies -- a decline of eight percentage points from last year’s results with regards to tech management dedicating resources to marketing technology.

There also appears to be an overinflated sense on the part of marketing of its tech prowess, the survey found. Fifty-eight percent of tech management leaders believe that the marketing team understands marketing technology, compared to 71 percent of marketers who think they do.

This 13-percentage-point difference in perception is one of the bottlenecks to alignment, the report flatly said.

How They Can Come Together

The report highlighted other areas of disconnect -- areas that with some attention could lead to an overall improvement in the CIO-CMO relationship.

The CIO should be more engaged in the process, or at least appear as though he is. Right now, there is a significant gap between the groups in how they perceive CIO engagement. Only 61 percent of marketers believe she is, compared with 76 percent of tech management leaders -- a 15-percentage-point difference.

Marketing and tech need to create marketing technology plans together. When created jointly these plans will have more support and funding, 70 percent of marketers and 66 percent of tech management executives believe. But, only 51 percent of marketing and tech management executives say this happens.

Joint steering committees should be established to set goals and create projects. This is another area where backsliding has occurred, the report found. According to this year's survey, 60 percent of tech management executives and 49 percent of marketers say they have joint steering committees to approve marketing technology projects, down from 68 percent and 55 percent, respectively, in 2013.

Set clear management roles and responsibilities. Only 58 percent of tech management leaders and 47 percent of marketers believe data management roles have been rationalized across the organization, the survey found.

One area around which both marketers and tech executives agree is of the company's ability to have a single, comprehensive view of the customers. Only 46 percent of marketers and 51 percent of tech management leaders believe that they do.

This could be the call to action that will drive CMOs and CIOs to more closely cooperate, the report suggests.

"CMOs and CIOs must seize the opportunity to gain access to and drive even deeper insights and connections around data and customer intelligence," it stated.

One suggestion: Create a data center of excellence (COE), tasking marketing with defining the questions to ask and tech management with ensuring that the right infrastructure is in place to answer those questions. "Then, commission COE members to collaborate to acquire, maintain, and analyze data -- including valuable partner and third-party data -- to bring those customer insights to light."

Title image by jennie-o (Flickr) via a CC BY 2.0 license