What's the difference between a CIO and CMO?

What's the difference between a CIO and CMO?

Some smart-ass (like me) will probably say “1 letter”….but let’s dive into that question a little more deeply.

Last week, in an article titled “CIO’s vs. CMO’s – what’s the real problem?“, I shared the following 2010 goals/projects that CIO’s and CMO’s are reportedly working on.   In that article I also promised a discussion of what the real issues between CIO’s and CMO’s are…but I wanted to get this little tidbit out of the way first. Come back next week for the deeper leadership/communication discussion I promised.

To reiterate, they top 5 goals/projects for CIO’s and CMO’s are:


  1. Improve end-user workforce productivity
  2. Lower the company’s overall operating costs
  3. Re-engineer core business processes
  4. Improve quality of products and/or processes
  5. Innovative new market offerings or business practices


  1. Digital marketing makeover – platforms, programs, people
  2. Sales and marketing organization alignment
  3. Customer data integration and analytics
  4. Marketing performance measurement
  5. Lead qualification and harvesting system

See anything there that jumps out at you to highlight the difference between a CIO and a CMO?

Anything at all?

I do….and it just hit me while thinking about this article.

The CIO’s goals/projects are very operationally focused.  Words like ‘improve’, ‘lower’, ‘re-engineer’ start the top 4 goals/projects.

The CMO’s goals/projects at first seem operational too.  Data integration. Performance measurement.  Systems. Platforms.

Interesting stuff….but after digging a little deeper into each goal and thinking about them for a few minutes, something jumped out at me.

It seems to me that the CIO is focused on deep organizational issues.  It seems that CIO’s are starting to focus on the business rather than technology.

What about the CMO?  I see a bunch of projects and goals focused on tactics.  I see a lot of projects focused on technology.

Is this a good thing?  Bad thing?

I can’t really say….but maybe we are seeing a shift towards the Marketing Technologist now.  Mitch Joel just pointed out that the time is ripe for the Chief Marketing Technologist and Scott Brinker has been talking about the marketing technologist and chief marketing technologist roles for year and is also talking about the role(s) of the CMO & CIO in the future organization.

I just hope the CMO and Marketing teams don’t focus too much on the technology and lose track of what that technology is to be used for.

That’s the reason CIO’s and IT groups have been in trouble over the last few years, isn’t it?

Back to my original question: What’s the difference between the CMO and the CIO?  In today’s world…not a whole heck of a lot….and that doesn’t bode well for the CIO of the future.  Makes me wonder how much a real CIO and IT group  matter to organizations.