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Fruit Flies and CXOs


How quickly things change. In a 2011 article a chief marketing guy compared the tenure of the average Fortune 500 CMO (24 months) to the life of a fruit fly. I only know this about fruit flies; they like wine for ending it all, especially the wine in my glass. I imagine that a least a couple of burned-out CMOs have met similar fates, using glasses of their own.

Most striking about the article, though, was how the writer barely scratched the surface about the changing roles and responsibilities of the CMO we think of today, just three years later. The business world seemingly revolves around the CMO’s fortuitous and rapid ascension to the center of the “customer experience,” as crafted by the combined forces of mobile, social, cloud and Big Data. Armed with new-found data forensics, the CMO is active in corporate strategy development, dissecting market dynamics, acquiring business technology and being champion of lifecycle management of The Brand.

A 2014 CMO survey reported that marketing budgets are on the rise … 6.7 percent in the next 12 months. Perhaps more significant is the fact that marketing budgets as a percent of firm revenues improved to 9.3 percent from 7.9 percent in 2013, indicating that marketing budget growth is outpacing revenue growth. We suspect a good deal of the budget increase will be earmarked for new applications and technology-delivery platforms.

Does this mean that CIOs could be the new fruit fly? Much has been written lately to suggest that unless CIOs successfully align with the CMO, throttle back on left-brain thinking and take more risks, then only one question remains: red or white wine?

A recent blog by our technology partner Cisco went so far as to say that the road to increased IT budgets and job security for CIOs passes through the marketing department.
“If you’re already working with the CMO to align budget priorities, then congratulations – you’re ahead of the pack and on your way to a promotion. If not, consider what happens when business groups spend technology budgets without your guidance,” wrote blog author Marlowe Fenne.

Marlowe goes on to cite a blog from Forrester Research by Sheryl Pattek, vice president and principal analyst, called “CMO’s and CIO’s – the new C Suite Power Couple.” It offers match-making and relationship-building suggestions.

In an earlier blog, we engaged in a related debate that looked at the disconnect between CEOs and CIOs. In “Are CEOs from Mars and CIOs from Venus?” we explored the personality traits of both, basically concluding that CIOs have a lot of work to do if they want to be perceived as a valuable contributor to the success of the business.

One thing seems clear. Getting out from under the strains of routine technology operations and management in order to focus on applying the power of technology for driving organizational success is the winning strategy for IT today.

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest