CIOs and CMOs should know enough about each other's field of expertise to be interchangeable if they're going to meet the modern needs of a customer-centric organisation, SAS's global marketing chief claims.

Speaking to CIO's sister publication CMO during the data analytics vendor's recent customer analytics forum in Sydney, SAS CMO, Jim Davis, himself a former CIO, said it was vital that the two executive-level roles shared a common understanding and focus if they're going to help their organisations find a competitive advantage and continue to win over customers.

The CIO/CMO relationship has been compared to a 'shotgun wedding', with the two sides forced together thanks to rising adoption of data analytics and technology platforms by marketers to improve customer interaction.

According to analyst firm Gartner, CMOs could well be spending more on IT by 2017 than their CIO counterparts due to their increasing reliance on technology.

Davis claimed CIOs and CMOs should have shared metrics to ensure their relationship doesn't end in divorce.

"These shared metrics on the IT side need to go beyond SLAs associated with uptime, and focus on customer retention and acquisition," he said.

"The best situation would be if you look at your CIO and say they could be the CMO, and to look at your CMO and say they could be the CIO. That's what we should be striving for -- the CMO should know enough about what technology can do for the organisation as the CIO.

"The CIO also needs to understand what all that technology can do for the organisation and how it can interact with the customer.

"Think about it: What makes a relationship work? It's that keen understanding of each other's interest. If CMOs and CIOs don't have that keen understanding of each other's interest, they won't stay married, let alone date."

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CIOs and CMOs should also both be at the table when strategic business decisions are made, Davis said.

"The CIO isn't just the person who lives up where the raised floor is and the cold air-conditioning, which is what a lot of people still think. And the CMO is not just the person that the COO is going to call in when the company determines they need a new brochure. Everyone has to be around the table."

Read the full interview with Jim Davis on CMO.