I’ve just published a report on CMO tech spending trends in India and what these trends mean for CIOs in the country. We found that Indian CMOs’ top two business priorities are addressing the rising expectations of customers and acquiring and retaining customers; 87% and 85%, respectively, of those we surveyed indicated that these are a critical or high priority. Interestingly, Indian CMOs’ business priorities echo those of Indian CIOs: 87% of Indian CIOs previously surveyed by Forrester cited addressing rising customer expectations as their organization’s top business priority (figure below).


Despite these common goals, our findings reveal that Indian CMOs are driving their own tech agendas by:

  • Accelerating the growth of their tech budgets. 62% of the Indian CMOs we surveyed plan to increase their technology budget in 2014, whereas just 41% of them actually managed to do so in 2013.
  • Establishing their own technology departments. Forrester estimates that 30% to 40% of CMOs in India have no working relationship with their CIOs. About 40% of marketing leaders are gravitating toward establishing a technology department within marketing.
  • Getting more involved in planning sourcing strategy and selecting marketing technology vendors. About half of the surveyed CMOs get involved in setting the overall sourcing strategy, aggregating demand for technology products or services, and selecting vendors to meet their requirements.

I believe that there are two key reasons for this CIO-CMO disconnect:

  • Differences in approach lead to friction. While CMOs pursue business objectives using an outside-in perspective, CIOs use an inside-out approach — and this often leads to friction. CIOs focus more on building a tech environment over a number of years to support business goals, whereas CMOs typically focus on short-term revenue growth. This leads to an expectation gap between the two roles, as CMOs expect CIOs to deliver technology-enabled business capabilities faster.
  • Past experiences build perceptions on IT. 37% of Indian CMOs feel that IT is too slow to respond to frequently changing customer and business needs and it would be faster just to do it themselves. Moreover, CMOs perceive that the tech management organization is too busy running internal operations and that marketing requests do not get the attention they deserve.

What it means for CIOs: Act now before it’s too late

The sobering truth is that CMOs are building their own technology agenda to serve digitally empowered customers. Your immediate step should be broadening the tech management priorities and focusing on two agendas. First, optimize your ongoing infrastructure management and internal operations, which we call “IT.” Then build internal capabilities to support business technology (BT), which Forrester defines as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. Adding a BT agenda will require CIOs to make necessary changes in job descriptions, performance metrics, culture, etc. Read the full report to get more actionable recommendations.

The countdown has begun: CIOs must ramp up their marketing quotient for effective collaboration with CMOs.