Struggling with CMO/CIO/CTO alignment? A few tips from the best


Betsey Chung, CMO Personal & Commercial Banking and Wealth at BMO Financial Group; Corinne Rusch-Drutz, CMO of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Steve Wood, CTO of Nudge Software, and Lorne Solway, CMO of Enercare, participated in a panel discussion today at the Data Marketing Conference in Toronto.

This panel discussion of heavy hitters just rocked! When the moderator, Tony Olvet of IDC Canada (a heavy hitter himself), asked them to specifically comment on the lack of alignment between CMOs, CIOs, and CTOs, let me tell you, the responses were some pretty evolved commentary.

Solway from Enercare positioned the C-level suite of duties in a very useful way. He spoke of the CMO as representing the voice of the customer and the CIO as the enabler of the customer journey. He eloquently positioned the departments as having to collaborate to remove friction in the customer journey. I was impressed by the simplicity of his statements. I happen to know Solway by reputation only, so it was good to see how he avoided getting caught up in any element of techie jargon. Refreshingly, everything he said revolved around the customer - a reprieve from many other public company leaders. Perhaps he is a part of the reason why Enercare stock is doing so well right now.

AGO’s Rush-Drutz discussed how her team collaborates and uses predictive modelling to assess the value of other art exhibits taking place around the globe. She suggested the biggest challenge of alignment is not around technology—that battle has been won. The bigger challenge here is keeping everyone cognizant of the fact that the AGO is ultimately a business. She also suggested that competing for the public’s attention is actually the biggest challenge. She added that every team in an organization should be thinking about the customer journey map, not just the marketers.

Woods from Nudge Software offered his point of view regarding who really owns the data around the customer. He gave some insight regarding how companies often get it wrong when considering data-driven marketing. He explained that you can’t just add a module on top of information or data. He used the example of a company that “hears” a customer saying they like a certain type of chocolate bar and then offers up a Facebook advertisement to try to drive a purchase. He kept using the term “people are really weird” as he described how complex it can be to watch or shape data. Honestly, I loved hearing someone as smart and well known as Woods (he has written two great books, which can be found here ) simplify customer behaviour as just “weird.” He and Solway agreed that consumers act irrationally and that the true value of data is looking for patterns within the irrationality.

Chung added that the biggest change she has witnessed at BMO is the use of an agile methodology. She talked about how projects that used to take 3 years can now be completed in less than 3 months because companies like hers can now put forth a minimal viable product and work on developing new iterations from there. Everything Chung said rang true, and she oozed credibility.

Thanks to Emma Warrillow of Data Insight Group, who invited me as her guest to the Data Marketing Conference. Now, keep in mind that my marketing agency is within the walls of Couch & Associates, the marketing technology agency best known for working with the boldest large revenue companies in North America. So it would be very hard to compete with Mike Couch and his team on any topic that relates to data-driven marketing. And sitting beside a woman like Emma, who is known for having her Analytic Tactical Unit teams placed in the best companies across North America, means I'm a pretty tough audience member. Honestly, the conference content only scratched the surface of data marketing; however, if the show can include more content like this, it could make a real impact on the industry.

If you are interested in discussing how data-driven marketing can change your business, consider reaching out to me at or any of the awesome folks at Couch & Associates and Data Insight Group.