While brows­ing through CMO​.com a few weeks back, the arti­cle “The Power Of A Great Marketing-IT Rela­tion­ship” caught my eye. Pub­lished by Com­put­er­world and writ­ten by Gart­ner, the arti­cle makes the point that in the next five years, the CMO might have a big­ger slice of the IT bud­get than the CIO. It also artic­u­lates the ben­e­fits of stronger CMO-CIO col­lab­o­ra­tion for lever­ag­ing the chang­ing dig­i­tal landscape.

This is nei­ther the first arti­cle that has been writ­ten on this topic, nor will it be the last. There will be many more. This trend will be more promi­nent in cer­tain indus­tries, such as retail, more than the oth­ers. How­ever, it is a cer­tainty that CMO-CIO align­ment will be one of the key orga­ni­za­tional trends to watch over the com­ing years across industries.

We all know that tech­nol­ogy is becom­ing increas­ingly crit­i­cal for mar­keters. As mar­keters begin to under­stand the big impact of big data on their enter­prises, and as they rely more on dig­i­tal chan­nels not only for sales, but also for under­stand­ing and pre­dict­ing con­sumer behav­ior, they have to get com­fort­able with the tech­nol­ogy that enables them to do that. At the same time, tech­nol­o­gists have to become com­fort­able with the unique demands and require­ments of mar­ket­ing vis-à-vis other func­tions, such as HR, finance, and sales.

If not man­aged prop­erly, this cross-pollination of skills, as well as cross-functional col­lab­o­ra­tion, can very eas­ily turn into an inter­nal land grab. To avoid that, CEOs need to put CMO-CIO align­ment on their agen­das and put spe­cial empha­sis on get­ting the mar­ket­ing and IT bal­ance right in their orga­ni­za­tions. There are many foun­da­tional pil­lars for achiev­ing the Holy Grail of “inim­itable com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion” that every CEO craves for–and, increas­ingly, in most indus­tries, exploit­ing the com­bined power of mar­ket­ing and IT is fast becom­ing one of those pillars.

On a sep­a­rate but, as it turns out, related note, ear­lier this week Adobe pub­lished its 2012 hol­i­day sea­son daily sales pre­dic­tions and insights. Cre­ated by the Adobe Dig­i­tal Index team, this pre­dic­tive analy­sis is based on more than 150 bil­lion online vis­its to more than 500 retail Web sites across the U.S. and Europe over the past six years. Some of the insights iden­ti­fied in this report are:

  • Pre­dic­tion of a record-sett­ing $2 bil­lion Cyber Mon­day, grow­ing by 18% over 2011.
  • Euro­pean con­sumers are expected to start hol­i­day shop­ping sooner and fin­ish later than their U.S. coun­ter­parts. While online sales in the U.S. do not pick up sig­nif­i­cantly until Black Fri­day, Euro­pean retail­ers were see­ing aver­age daily sales increase by 150% the first week of Novem­ber and will see a sim­i­lar spike imme­di­ately fol­low­ing Christmas.
  • Social media refer­rals to retail Web sites this hol­i­day sea­son is pro­jected to dou­ble com­pared to last year, and refer­rals from Pin­ter­est is expected to grow the most, dou­bling from 7% to 14% YoY.
  • Mobile is expected to rep­re­sent 21% of total online sales dur­ing the 2012 hol­i­day sea­son. Sales from mobile devices are pro­jected to increase 110% com­pared to last year, with sales from tablets con­sti­tut­ing 13.5% of total sales, more than dou­ble that of smart­phones (6.5%) and other devices, such as e-readers (1%).

I can keep going on about the inter­est­ing insights that have been pub­lished. I would strongly encour­age you to check out the report, as well as the inter­ac­tive graph that pro­vides daily updates to actual sales vs. pre­dicted sales.

This kind of pre­dic­tive ana­lyt­ics does not hap­pen by magic–whether it is across 500 orga­ni­za­tions or just one, it requires a well-choreographed tango between mar­keters and tech­nol­o­gists. In fact, pre­dic­tive ana­lyt­ics that cre­ate inim­itable com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion requires a level of col­lab­o­ra­tion between CMO and CIO that has not been neces­si­tated before in the his­tory of many organizations.

To lever­age the big impact of big data, big col­lab­o­ra­tion between mar­ket­ing and IT is required. This, among oth­ers, is one of the very key rea­sons for CEOs to put CMO-CIO align­ment on their agen­das, prefer­ably much higher up than where it is today.