CMO Council Finds Big Data Critical to Customer-Centric Cultures
New Study Reveals Total Partnership and Collaboration Between Marketing and IT Often Stymied by Lack of Common Definition of Customer Centricity and Battles Over Budget

PALO ALTO, Calif. (April 2, 2013)—The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO), often believed to be fundamentally at odds, have found common ground in big data as both an obstacle and an opportunity. According to the findings of a new study from the CMO Council, in partnership with SAS, both marketers and IT executives believe big data is a key competitive differentiator and will be core to implementing a more customer-centric business culture.

Big data has emerged as the critical factor to achieving an enterprise-wide customer-centric culture, according to 40 percent of marketers and 51 percent of IT respondents. However, both also agree that big data is part obstacle and part opportunity (61 percent of marketers and 60 percent of IT executives), and a further 52 percent of marketers and 45 percent of IT professionals believe functional silos block aggregation of data from across the organization, making it difficult to truly achieve customer centricity.

The study also reveals that the two functions are more aligned than many may think. Some 41 percent of marketers and 39 percent of IT executives say they are aligned with one another, but both admit there are still challenges to executing priority projects. Regardless of any setbacks, both overwhelmingly agree that the relationship is critical, according to 85 percent of marketers and 85 percent of IT executives.

“In this age of digital engagement, it is easy to see how the roles of the CMO and CIO are intertwined,” said Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “But the relationship has evolved beyond platforms and processes and has become solidified over the data needs of the organization. Separately, the two roles can devolve into bickering over budget, ownership and governance. But aligned and coupled, these two roles become silo-busters, with the ultimate goal of enabling enterprise-wide customer centricity.”

Multiple areas of opportunity emerge where further alignment and collaboration will improve the organization’s ability to execute customer-centric programs. Marketing is looking for a strategic partner that will come to the table with initiatives to advance customer centricity (26 percent). Marketing also believes the greatest value in the relationship can manifest in the ability of the organization to better gather data from across the enterprise (63 percent). For their part, IT executives see marketing as their partner in advancing analytics and data-driven decision making throughout the organization (62 percent). However, IT would like marketing to approach them earlier in the process to collaborate more on strategy (62 percent) and not just platform selection and deployment.

“Both groups are eager for more—that much is clear,” Neale-May added. “Yet something is still missing as both marketing and IT admit that strong, centralized leadership is lacking, making it hard for the relationship to stay focused and on track.”

Both marketing and IT say the top aspect that defines a customer-centric organization is a corporate culture that puts the customer at the center of all processes and business decisions. And they admit that this and other key attributes of customer centricity have only been partially adopted (31 percent of marketers/33 percent of IT executives).

A lack of clear ownership of the customer is likely at the core of this partial commitment to a customer focus. The customer is not clearly owned by a single office as both CMO and CIO agree that ownership rests across the CEO (18 percent of marketing/20 percent of IT); CMO (17 percent of marketing/19 percent of IT); sales (19 percent of marketing/15 percent of IT); or is simply undefined and spread across multiple functions (14 percent of marketing/17 percent of IT). This lack of centralized customer ownership has resulted in a scenario where 48 percent of marketers and 44 percent of IT executives are only moderately confident in ability of the organization’s core touchpoints to reach and engage with the customer.

"Of all the C-suite executives, the CMO and CIO are most primed to drive customer-centricity throughout the organization,” said Wilson Raj, Global Customer Intelligence Director of SAS. “The CMO and CIO must become comrades in gathering and analyzing data across the enterprise, and adopting technologies that anticipate, automate and accelerate customer engagements.”

Interestingly, for those organizations who believe they have total partnership between marketing and IT, the CEO is the primary owner of the customer—not sales. And both marketing and IT are both highly satisfied with the organization’s ability to reach and engage the customer (42 percent of marketing/31 percent of IT). These CMOs and CIOs also agree that the lines of responsibility around customer-centric programs and big data are easy to define; marketing develops both the customer engagement strategy (80 percent of marketing/80 percent of IT) and the insights into customers and customer requirements (84 percent of marketing/65 percent of IT). IT focuses on aggregating and delivering data from across the enterprise (64 percent of marketing/65 percent of IT).

The 153-page report features the results of an online survey of 237 senior marketers and 210 senior IT executives, in addition to best-practice profiles from leading marketing and IT executives from brands including AIG Bank, Allianz Life Insurance, American Cancer Society, Brown-Forman, Citi, Commercial Metals Company, Conde Nast, Farmers Insurance Gorup, First American Financial, First Tech Federal Credit Union, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, GM, Hilton Worldwide, Intrawest, Lockheed Martin, Magnolia Federal Credit Union, Nexxo Financial Corporation, Omnicom Media Group, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, Panasonic, PNC Financial Services, Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego, Silicon Valley Bank, Transamerica Insurance & Investment Group, Wyndham Hotels Group and WellPoint. Both the survey and interviews were conducted across Q4 of 2012 and Q1 of 2013. The report ($199 value) is available for download at ( A complimentary executive summary is also available. More information can be found at

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of global industries. The CMO Council's 6,500-plus members control more than $300 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include more than 20,000 global executives in more than 110 countries covering multiple industries, segments and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, India and Africa. The council's strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE),, Marketing Supply Chain Institute, Customer Experience Board, Market Sense-Ability Center, Digital Marketing Performance Institute, GeoBranding Center and the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME). More information about the CMO Council is available at

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 60,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW®.

SAS and all other SAS Institute Inc. product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of SAS Institute Inc. in the USA and other countries. ® indicates USA registration. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies. Copyright © 2013 SAS Institute Inc. All rights reserved


Media Contact:

Crystal Berry

CMO Council

Director, Communications and Marketing Programs


Privacy Policy

The CMO-CIO Alignment Imperative takes privacy very seriously and are committed to respecting your online privacy. Throughout the data collection process, all necessary steps are taken to ensure that data ("Personal Information") is used only according to the purposes that we have clearly stated. Personal Information means any information that may be used to identify an individual, including, but not limited to, a first and last name, a business, home or other physical address, a phone number for work, home or mobile communications, an e-mail address or other contact information, whether at work or at home.

Purposes for which information is collected

All data collected at this site may be used for two purposes: first, for the purpose of providing any service requested by you, second, for the purpose of direct marketing by The CMO Council and other companies. This implies that we may from time to time send you information about CMO Council products, publications, reports, events, services, or conferences. Additionally, we may pass your name and address on to other companies whose products we believe you might be interested in.

Your right to 'opt out'

Under the Data Protection Act, you have the right to 'opt out' of direct marketing campaigns. If you previously gave consent for data to be used and wish to opt out later, you can inform us in writing or by email. Data submitted to will then not be used for any kind of direct marketing or provided to third parties. However, you may still receive mail from us about your purchases, registrations, or subscriptions.

Use of email addresses

By submitting your email address to us, you agree to allow us to use this address to notify you of any facts which may be pertinent to your membership within the CMO Council. Your email address may also be used to send unsolicited marketing material from approved CMO Council partners.

If you would like to unsubscribe from all email communication, please email and type Opt-out in the subject line.

For more information

This statement is a summary and does not represent a complete statement of intent on behalf of The CMO Council in respect of information privacy. If you require more information, please email us at with your comments and we will do our best to answer you as quickly as possible.


This site has security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse, and alteration of the information under our control. Financial data is hosted in a high-security, fully redundant, risk-free data center. All transactions occur over secure SSL connections.