You know that fantasy about marketing and IT leaders aligning their priorities and working together to create compelling customer experiences? Well, it could happen ... if CIOs and CMOs would stop letting their egos get in the way.

That's the conclusion from new research from Rackspace, which found ego trumps lack of communication between the two departments, misalignment of goals and poor understanding of roles.

Me, Me, Me

The CIO and the CMO each know what they should be doing, Kyle Metcalf, general manager of the Digital Practice Area at Rackspace told CMSWire. "Both sides have a clear understanding of how they should be working together. They need to be more collaborative, they need to involve each other in planning and processes. But they’re just not doing it,” he said.

“It’s more unwilling than unable. There’s a big ego issue at this level.”

The recently published findings (registration required) — the result of a survey of 201 IT and marketing departments in US organizations with a turnover of more than $5 million — show: 

  • Only 14 percent of marketing leaders and 17 percent of IT leaders feel that their departments are integrated
  • 92 percent of marketing leaders and 75 percent of IT leaders are looking for more integration
  • Speed is a top frustration on both sides: Nearly half of marketing leaders think IT does not work quickly enough, while nearly half of IT leaders feel marketing wants IT to move too fast, potentially compromising security and quality

Metcalf said that this typically manifests itself in what marketing departments see as foot-dragging by the IT department when marketers are looking to introduce a new software solution or application.

Solving the Problem

He said the research showed CMOs will plan a new website or software implementation without ever consulting the IT department. It is only after the project has been approved that IT is finally approached.

“This is a set up for failure. It’s the ego. It’s an unwillingness to seek to understand,” he said.

However, both departments appear to be aware of the problem. The way forward is through a partnership with common goals, common language and frequent communication as keys to an integrated relationship, he said.

Furthermore, of respondents surveyed, about 70 percent of both groups believe a neutral third party can make that collaboration easier

“CMOs and CIOs have to lock themselves in a room until they understand each other,” Metcalf said.

cmo-cio infographic