CIOs Discuss the CIO/CMO Relationship at the Boston CIO Roundtable

Dozens of Boston area CIOs gathered at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Boston on March 5th for an active and engaging discussion of the CIO/CMO relationship and how it is evolving as the dynamics of technology and marketing change at a rapid pace. Participants shared their own experience as well as their views on the larger trends. Many valuable insights surfaced in the lively discussion.

The group was also treated to a presentation on the IT operations of Liberty Mutual by the meeting host, Mojgan Lefebvre, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Liberty Mutual Global Specialty.

The host presentation highlighted the business/functional landscape of IT at Liberty Mutual. Mojgan described the separate business focus areas across the business, these being defined as:  Personal, Commercial, Global and International insurance. Her presentation talked of harmonization as well as diversity in a rapidly changing landscape as Liberty Mutual has experienced a significant expansion in the insurance sector over the past few years. As part of the presentation the round-table discussion highlighted the challenges associated with distributed data centers relating to latency issues, data security and ‘in country’ legal requirements.

Morjan’s talk was followed by the feature presentation of the meeting: The CMO and CIO relationship.

Jay Leader and Steve Morin eloquently presented this topic spending considerable time on the interface of the two positions. The presenters highlighted the fundamental difference in approach relating to computer applications and IT services. Marketing’s need is typically short term with a high degree of flexibility. Further, many marketing organizations are expanding their technology budget to support their needs. IT tends to have a more pragmatic approach as concerns relating to security, supportability, change management, and integration into the extended business and technical architecture are paramount. IT should encourage marketing to approach technology and service implantations from a fundamentally holistic viewpoint. The presentation also highlighted the introduction of a Digital Marketing Steering Committee, placement of marketing talent in IT and the need for the CMO and the CIO to work together on a digital roadmap.

The ensuing round robin discussions highlighted the emerging role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Of particular note was an apparent difference for companies with an older style management. They tend to have traditional marketing teams that have very different needs to those associated with newer, nimble and rapidly changing companies. These two, very different factions present unique challenges for IT groups in their partnering activities

The meeting adjourned at 5:30. Dinner reservations had been made at the Erbaluce restaurant just a short 5 minute walk away. This restaurant has won numerous awards and has been voted as the best Italian restaurant over the past 4 years by ‘The Improper Boson’. The menu selections are rooted in traditional regional Italian cooking, and use the best seasonal local ingredients. The group enjoyed a splendid dinner specially prepared by the chef Charles Draghi. The restaurant did not disappoint, as the group relaxed in a pleasant atmosphere and discussed topics of the day.

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