After months, if not years, of dire warnings about how CMOs were competing with CIOs for scarce corporate resources, that CMOs were eventually going to supplant CIOs, and that CIOs were a dying breed, the latest round of corporate advice is: CIOs and CMOs should be working together.

Now they tell us.

“Given the antagonistic history between these two executives, it sounds like an impossible situation,” writes Tom Kaneshige in CIO. “At times, the CIO and CMO appear to be playing a zero-sum game. That is, one does well only at the expense of the other.”

In fact, CIOs and CMOs are more similar than different, Kaneshige continues, pointing to the time-honored business horoscope known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI). CIOs tend to be ESTJs—extrovert, sensing, thinking, and judging—while CMOs tend to be ENTJs—intuition instead of sensing.

In other words, the CMO is more likely to operate on gut feel, while the CIO is more likely to work from, you know, actual data.

“Marketers often come up with creative ideas on a gut feeling, and the CMO throws some money at it, assigns a couple of marketing people for a few weeks, launches, fails fast, and moves on to the next thing,” he writes. “CIOs are more diligent and need to think through a project proposal from start to finish.”

But other than that, the roles are similar, agrees Wilson Raj in How CMOs and CIOs Can Collaborate to Win: Lessons From the Fox and the Hedgehog. “Despite perceived barriers, CIOs and CMOs have common goals and similar challenges,” he writes. “Marketing needs to exploit the full extent of Big Data and analytics to guide its decision-making. And IT must emphasize the external customer, employing agile technology options and platforms.”

Indeed, part of the new rapprochement between CMO and CIO is the CMO’s realization that marketing needs the technical skills and data the CIO possesses to succeed. One Forrester survey notes that the number of CMOs who value the CIO as important has risen from 30 percent in 2011 to 51 percent in 2013.

No CMO I know would want the CIO job,” admits Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council.

All of this brings us back to the CIO and the CMO learning to respect each others’ abilities and playing together nicely. “A triune alliance among CIO, CMO and CDO will make a powerful impact on bringing businesses into the digital age,” says Heidi Schwende, a Chief Digital Officer with WSI World. “We’re all going to become technologists in some way, shape or form. Who better to learn technology from than a well-oiled, technology savvy, forward-thinking CIO.”

Who indeed? After all, it’s the CIO who has more of the experience with how projects succeed—and how they fail. “Most sophisticated marketers have commissioned a technical project and then found themselves in a black hole of stress,” agrees Dan Kirby, CEO of Techdept, in Why Your Creative Team Should Join Forces with IT. “They don't quite know what they have signed up for and it never seems to get completed.”

(And the CIOs go, “Welcome to my world.”)

Forrester diagnoses part of the CIO-CMO problem as the siloes departments tend to work within, and recommends not only liaisons between the marketing and IT organizations, but committees on which representatives from both groups sit. In addition, organizations should focus on common goals, such as customer experience and data analytics, the company suggests.

“Both the CMO and CIO are on the hook for turning all that data into growth together,” writes McKinsey & Co. in Getting the CMO and CIO to work as partners. “It may be a marriage of convenience, but it’s one that CMOs and CIOs need to make work—especially as worldwide volume of data is growing at least 40 percent a year, with ever-increasing variety and velocity. That’s why many CMOs are waking up to the fact that IT can’t be treated like a back-office function anymore; rather, the CIO is becoming a strategic partner who is crucial to developing and executing marketing strategy.”

Accenture, for its part, recommends that CIOs should move away from wanting to control all the technology, and instead should serve as consultants. In fact, another Forrester study finds that the share of IT projects primarily or exclusively run by IT will decline from 55 percent in 2009 to 47 percent next year.

If CIO-as-consultant sounds familiar, it’s because we’re also hearing that this is how the CIO position is evolving in government. "I can have a CMO outspend me, that's fine,” Sonny Hashmi, CIO of the U.S. General Services Administration, tells CIO. “But I'd like to be a broker of the platforms we're using and let them innovate on top of it so I have a sense of structure and a common sense of what we're using."

Forty-five percent of CMOs believe “more collaboration is needed” with the CIO, according to the Accenture study Cutting across the CMO-CIO divide. “The debate is no longer about whether chief marketing officers and chief information officers should align,” Accenture writes. “It is how.”

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