CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

21 May 2014

East Africa: CIOs and CMOs - Are They Ready for the 'BFF' Status?

BFF is an acronym used by the 'now' generation to mean Best Friends Forever or in short, BFF.

Now, are our Chief Information Officers (CIOSs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) ready to bridge the gap between them, get over their differences and work together for the success of their businesses?

This was the question posed today at the CIO CMO breaksfast event held in Nairobi. Held under the theme "Acquaintances or Allies," the event was organised by CIO East Africa in partnership with IBM and 3MICE Interactive. The event came against the backdrop of the recent IBM Global C-Suite 2013 study which found that if CMOs and CIOs work together, the enterprise is 76% more likely to outperform in revenues and profitability.

With the use of digital technologies as well as the current shift in using social media as a marketing tool for many businesses, the need to also analyze data and keep customers at the forefront all point to new opportunities that should compel CMOs and CIOs to move beyond simply being professional acquaintances to becoming true allies or as the new generation would put it "BFFs".

Delegates at the half-day meeting also heard that trends point to a situation where Marketing and IT are each experiencing new offers, therefore calling for the need for CMOs and CIOs to forge tight alliances that will enable them to better support their organizations' corporate initiatives.

Among the key challenges brought out that affect both the CIOs and CMOs are misaligned priorities, different C-suite relationships, legacy of bad experiences and perception of the CIO's office. However, customers are the key focus in any business enterprise and CIOs and CMOs should therefore put their differences aside and collaborate for better service delivery to the clientele .

James Muritu Kariuki, CIO, Jubilee Insurance said that amidst all the challenges, CIOs and CMOs can foster their relationship by working together especially where budgeting is required and CMOs should view CIOs as strategic partners.

"Most CMOs are still not conversant with IT. CMOs forget that IT department should be their first customers for feedback. To improve the relationship, the CMO should try to inculcate transparency and collaborate with IT while planning budgets. CIOs on the other hand should now move to a new phase of generating ideas and not only about data. This will only be possible if CMO are involved as they will help CIOs generate more meaningful information for the business," said Kariuki.

He added that CMOs should also be in a position to develop roadmaps and see how use of IT will help develop the business roadmap. The CIOs and CMOs need to work together as allies and not just colleagues since now in most organisations the customers come first.

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