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Should CIOs Be In Charge of Marketing?
Written by Mel Duvall
An interesting trend seems to have been developing of late. In several recent chief information officer or chief technology officer hirings, companies have announced that the new IT chief would not only be responsible for information systems, but also head up marketing operations.

At first blush this seems like an unusual pairing, marketing and IT. But it does make some sense when you consider the bigger picture.

Companies are having to cope with a marketing revolution taking place as a result of the Internet and a wide variety of Web 2.0 technologies. They are not only having to reach out to customers using Web sites and online advertising, they are having to respond to customer complaints, product issues, and sometimes company bashing, in social networking forums, “tweets” and YouTube videos.

As CIOZone member Wesley McGregor commented in a recent posing: “With business and technology becoming more aligned and more reliant upon each other, the (CIO or CTO) heading up the marketing portfolio seems only natural.”

Two weeks ago CIOZone reported that Gaylord Entertainment, which operates a number of mega-resorts, had asked its CIO Rich Maradik to also assume the role of chief marketing officer. The company was looking to leverage Maradik’s expertise in database marketing to build an improved customer relationship management (CRM) system. Last week, oilfield services company Baker Hughes announced that it has hired Derek Mathieson as its CTO, and had also made Mathieson responsible for marketing. See this link for the article.

In a recent report titled CRM 2.0: Fantasy or Reality, Forrester Research principal analyst William Band noted that the rise of social computing means that companies must find innovative new ways to cope with the phenomenon of “social customers.” He says recent studies have shown that three in four U.S. online adults now use social tools to connect with each other, compared to 56% in 2007. And CRM vendors are adding a wide range of new capabilities to deal with everything from wikis, to social networking, mashups and podcasting.

With so many new technologies bombarding marketing, is it any wonder then that companies are asking their CIOs to step in to take charge.

It is not certain whether this is a long-term trend or a short term fix. It may very well be that once new CRM technologies are implemented to deal with Web 2.0 challenges, CIOs will take a step back and traditional marketing executives will once again assume the helm.

The question is, however, what new technologies may be on the horizon which could swing the pendulum even further in this direction, with more and more companies looking to have their CIOs take charge of marketing?

What do you think? Should CIOs take responsibility for marketing and is this a short-term or long-term trend?

Comments (2)
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1. 12-09-2008 17:23
I feel that this further bolsters the merging of technology and business. This paradigm has been a long time coming and is good to see it continuing to gaining traction. 
With that said, the scope of Marketing entails much more than the use of technology; yes technology will help get your marketing message(s) out to prospective or existing customers, but you still need a knowledeable individual to properly create said messages. 
I think that this may be a short-term trend that is possibly due to the economy (i.e. 2 functional resources for the price of 1) But this also shines a light on education. I wonder what the curriculum of a business marketing major is these days? One would hope the various new technologies make up a portion of it. I sense a sea-change in this business function.
2. 12-09-2008 22:29
From my experience, I have observed that younger generation is good at adopting the latest trends. 
Most technologists should find ways to keep their child like enthusiasm going and constantly scan and evaluate how upcoming technology help core business of the organizations they work for. 
CIOs leading marketing does provide an apt example.

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