Published May 18, 2020

It’s not just the CIO that spends the budget.

There has long been the CIO/CMO power struggle when it comes to decision making but there is an emerging process of engagement with other C-level executives, outside of the business norm. Do these executives hold the key to decision making today?


The question of who holds the purse strings is heavily debated in today’s innovative world. The CIO has long been regarded as the key decision-maker, the boss that we all want to get on the phone. They held the budget and were heavily involved in implementing decisions from the top down. As their roles became more complex and opportunities to speak with them became more difficult, other business executives have stepped in to bridge the gap and assist with the decision making process. It’s no longer just the CIOs that spend the technical budget. For example, the previous process would have seen the IT budget being controlled by the CIO, hardware was controlled by the CTO and marketing was guarded by the CMO. Now, we are frequently seeing the CTO and the CMO and their respective business units creep into the decision-making operation. Tapping into these key roles is often bringing multiple stakeholders on board with the decision making measures.

“Today’s successful CIOs have moved from a focus on technology to a role of business strategist and leader.” Aaron Goldberg, CIO

Most companies will have a step-by-step decision-making process. Business executives will rigorously follow this set procedure to implement decisions. The CIO is not solely focusing on core IT projects but is also involved in digital innovation projects. There are arguably, so many factors for them to consider to make a decision, that it becomes impossible for them to step forward and implement action.

Decision making requires situations to be evaluated from all angles. Business leaders need to solve problems so are constantly evolving the process at every stage for a decision to be made and realised. With digital marketing and social media being governed by the CMO, marketing heads are taking on increasing responsibility to align the problems and solutions alongside the IT business units. However, this generates the issue around marketing units- who will be looking to invest to generate more revenue, against the IT business heads- who will be investing with the purpose to save. It becomes problematic for business units to sign off on anything. So what are they doing about it and how are they adapting the process through the Covid-19 pandemic?

“CIOs have moved into emergency cost optimization which means that investments will be minimized and prioritized on operations that keep the business running, which will be the top priority for most organizations through 2020,” John-David Lovelock, Research Vice President at Gartner.

The CIO focus will be shifting further and budget cuts will be factored into any decisions as a response to the pandemic. We are already seeing the IT business units and the marketing heads stepping forward to implement the action that’s required. As a result, are we going to see the decision making power shift to these roles to sidestep the CIO barrier?

Business executives are working in an environment that they have never experienced before. We will inevitably see business heads needing to push through digital and virtual growth at a rapid rate. Although ROI has always been at the forefront of these actions, we are likely to see cuts to other areas of the business to save revenue.

We will be having more discussions with other business stakeholders in the decision-making process and this will become even more apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic. Building relationships with CTO, CMO and their respective heads of business will be crucial to expanding the budget and getting a decision.

Pramel Shah

Global Sales Director

Inspired Business Media