BOSTON -- Marketing and technology need to get married. Not the spur-of-the-moment kind of marriage that ends in two years, but a systematic, well-planned, engaging, long-lasting kind of marriage that starts with a 250 person, $85 a person prime rib dinner wedding that continues 50 years later.

That’s the message this morning on Day 1 of the Gilbane Conference here from Scott Brinker, founder and CTO of ion interactive.


And guess what? It’s happening.

At least at Marriott International, where the CIO reports to the CMO, according to Meghan Walsh, Marriott’s senior director of eCommerce Platform System Management. Walsh also spoke during this morning's first keynote.

Yes, technology answers to marketing. They are not only speaking to each other, but actually in a formal manner.

"What’s going on in IT today?" Mrs. CMO asks Mr. CIO.

That reporting structure drew the most oohs and aahs this morning from the coffee-fueled audience of a few hundred at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel who came for the 12th annual show.

The CIO reports to the CMO?

It works for Marriott. After all, when marketing understands technology better, rather than complain about it, better business outcomes prevail, Walsh said this morning.

The relationship between the CMO and the CIO at Marriott was surprising to one audience member, who cited in the Q&A session a survey that said 87 percent of CMOs do not want to work with the CIO.

Learning Opportunities

Need for Chief Marketing Technologist

According to Brinker, though, they have to. “The CIO and CMO have to be talking on a regular basis, and that’s great,” Brinker said. “But it’s not enough.”

Marketing, Brinker said, needs to leverage technology and build it into its capabilities. This, he added, is where the need for a CMT comes into focus. CMT as in Chief Marketing Technologist. The CMT reports up to the CMO but at the same time is accountable to the CIO.

This kind of "in-between" position has been documented with other titles, too. Brinker wasn't so much concerned with titles, he said. No matter the title, the need for the CIO and CMO to be on the same playing field has been said to be crucial.

“Enterprise technology is not an island,” Brinker said. “These roles can be bridged. The main mission is to guide the technical capabilities of marketing people, processes and platforms and to do that in full coordination with the IT department.”


How about CMM — Chief Money Maker? That’s what it boils down to, right? So we ask — what internal reporting structure with marketing and IT is working for you?