Visitors to ITBusiness.ca will be no stranger to the topic of CIO-CMO collaboration and it seems to be a subject to which every executive has their own approach.

But the more I’ve covered the topic and had discussions with people on both sides of the table – both CIOs and CMOs – I’m starting to notice the common denominators in the people that find success in working together. My conversation today with Steve Van Binsbergen, the vice-president of business marketing at Rogers Communications Inc. was a great example of that. Steve has developed his very own method for establishing an effective collaboration between the IT and marketing departments that goes all the way to the top level. Having learned about his tactics and hearing his lessons learned, several of his points resonated with me as echoing others that are successful in this area.

It’s all about the customer

At the end of the day it’s important to realize that both CMOs and CIOs are working to achieve the same thing at the company – delivering on customer needs. If you work within the context of your department’s needs being driven to meet customer needs, then the barriers to collaboration tend to work away. By placing the emphasis on your ability to do service for others as opposed to your ability to feed your own desires, you make it easier to foster that spirit of teamwork towards a common goal.

Here’s a chart from Steve that demonstrates how Rogers sees the connected enterprise. Notice that “People” and “Customers” are in the important, first-read quadrants:

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CIOs are becoming business managers too

As Steve describes it, the CIO is becoming less tech geek and more business savvy. That’s likely the result of where we’re at in the progression of IT services and infrastructure. While IT projects at a company are associated with expenses that merely keep the lights on, business department spending is associated with innovation and the opportunity to attract new revenue. So smart CIOs are recognizing that it’s time to sit at the executive board table and talk about business strategy – not IT strategy.

That sentiment is borne out in this research from IDC in a another slide that Steve shares:

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Talk sooner rather than later

It’s a pretty typical scenario these days that a marketing executive identifies some cloud service they want to implement in order to meet their objectives. But it’s important to remember that even if you have the budget to spend on such a thing, it’s best to consult with IT before you go ahead and do so.

Steve was in this scenario and was smart enough to talk with his IT department ahead of signing any contracts with the third-party provider he had his eye on. Not surprisingly, there were some concerns from the IT folk about going outside the organization. But when Steve was able to explain why he needed the solution, IT accepted it and helped implement the technology properly. That’s a happier ending than other stories I’ve heard, where marketing execs first decide to spend money on an outside service provider, only to later be shut down by the IT department because of a lack of security. That’s a lot of budget down the drain and a lot of risk taken unnecessarily.

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