Three ways big data aligns the CMO and CIO


New research by the CMO Council and SAS, entitled "Big Data's Biggest Role: Aligning the CMO & CIO," shows more overlaps than differences between marketing and IT. Big data is uniting the CMO and CIO in their common quest for a customer-centric organization.  61 percent of marketers and 60 percent of IT executives agree that Big Data brings both obstacles and opportunities to the table.

Obstacles for marketing include winnowing through big data to arrive at the "right data" and applying analytics for data-driven decision-making. Challenges for the IT department includes the big data realities of customer information, the acceleration of technology change and the explosion of options and platforms. In fact,  52 percent of marketers and 45 percent of IT executives believe functional silos prevent the enterprisewide aggregation of big data--thus hindering customer centricity.

Despite these perceived barriers to IT and marketing partnership, CIOs and CMOs have common goals and face many of the same challenges. Big data can expedite successful and viable partnerships when CIOs and CMOs gravitate around three shared goals:

  1. Drive sustained business growth.
    Both the CIO and the CMO are accountable for driving profitable revenue growth. While the CMO is often accountable in direct terms, measuring success in terms of market share, customer growth, or loyalty, the CIO needs to show how technology investment contributes to business growth. By harnessing big data (customer, operational, financial) to focus on this common objective, CIOs can move the IT agenda toward contributing directly to customer value rather than solely driving indirect contribution through cost reduction.
  2. Deliver an outstanding customer experience.
    Marketing focuses on customer needs, customer value, and customer experience. Even with an internal orientation, IT is also increasingly customer-focused. CIOs are recognizing the importance of the external customer as the primary driver of technology strategy. With big data, IT's internal-customer orientation — a focus on delivering value to the internal IT customer — can be shifted and recalibrated for customer-centricity, with the customer at the locus of IT planning, deployment, and support.
  3. Enable a single customer viewpoint.
    IT has had considerable experience in delivering the enterprise perspective on data, information, and technology architecture. Almost all functional areas—customer service, sales, human resources, and many others — have benefited from IT’s approach to enterprise-wide applications availability. Marketing is now joining the ranks to recognize that customer insights culled from just individual campaigns or channels is ineffectual. The vast amount of data at the individual customer level combined with other data sources can create a truly singular view of the customer--regardless of touchpoints. By developing a data management hub focused on customer data and big data flows, IT can impart enormous value to marketing and the organization at large.

Of all the C-suite executives, the CMO and CIO are most primed to drive customer-centricity throughout the organization. With big data as the unifying force,  the CMO and CIO can and must become comrades in gathering and analyzing data across the enterprise, and adopting technologies that anticipate, automate and accelerate customer engagements.

For more interesting details on this global research with over 400 marketing and IT executives, please download the report.



About Author

Global Director, Customer Intelligence

Until his passing in January 2022, Wilson Raj was the Global Director of Customer Intelligence at SAS. He was responsible for global marketing to establish, evolve and evangelize SAS’ analytics-powered marketing solutions. With twenty years of experience in multiple industries, Raj was known for building data-driven brand value, engagement, and loyalty through expertise in integrating advertising, digital marketing, social media, multi-channel relationship marketing and public relations. He led marketing at Fortune Global 500® companies such as Microsoft, Medtronic and Philips. He also advised C-level executives on digital strategy while at award-winning agencies that include Publicis Groupe and WPP-owned agencies—such as VML/Young & Rubicam and Wunderman.


  1. I agree that the CMO and CIO will need to work together, but in the end the CMO, or even CEO, will need to take the lead. Big data is a strategic choice and not an IT responsibility. IT is merely a means to an end and just required to answer the big data questions posed at board level. Find more information about that here:

    • Wilson Raj on

      I agree, Mark. Big data is not an IT responsibility per se. The members of the C-suite will need to always start with stategic questions first, and then factor in big data analysis for additional, unique insights to those questions. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Pingback: The New Army of Two: the CMO and CIO | Pressly Blog

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