The Collaboration Between Marketing And Innovation May Surprise You

By Cecile Thirion, marketing director, Transportation, Central and Local Government Services, Xerox

As marketing and technology converge, the conversation has intensified over the interaction between the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Information Officer. Gartner predicted CMOs will spend more on IT than their counterpart CIOs by 2017. IDC, during their annual conference Directions2013, compared the CMO and CIO as either friends or frenemies.

But what surprises me is how little discussion is underway on the role the CMO and the Chief Innovation Officer could play together.

More than thirty years ago, didn’t Peter Drucker say that “the purpose of a company is to create a customer. Therefore the business has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results: all the rest are costs?”

To me, the collaboration sounds obvious. That’s why as a marketing executive, I’ve partnered with the CIO of my business unit to improve the experience of our clients.

Here are three reasons why I think partnering with my Chief Innovation Officer makes sense:

  • In the era of the self educated buyer, our clients are looking for ideas, insights on how they could solve their toughest transportation problems. I don’t pretend marketing has the knowledge to create relevant and helpful content, but our researchers that work in the field with our clients every day do. Naturally, we’ve launched an Innovator’s Brief for the Transportation Industry, a quarterly informative newsletter where our CIO shares his thoughts about the different projects coming from our global R&D centers.
  • Innovation at Xerox is part of our DNA and Marketing is in the forefront to reposition our Brand. We’ve found it would be unexpected, but relevant to show the new Xerox through the lens of our researchers. Take parking for example, we have ethnographers that study human behavior and watch drivers circling for spaces, searching for coins and hoping they won’t get a ticket. Their objective: to improve the driver’s experience and take the pain out of parking.Watch this TEDx video from one of PARC’s leading ethnographers to learn more.

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  • By working closely with our group CIO and his researchers on our marketing programs, we learn to take chances and experiment. We’re not afraid to fail, we persevere: they show us the way to challenge the status quo.

Today, technology is changing the way we interact with our clients and marketing is transforming fast. By collaborating with Innovation, finding better ways to market your ideas will be simpler.


Follow Cecile on Twitter at  @CecileSF. She’s currently serving on the @Techwomen selection committee.


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  1. Bruce Curley April 4, 2013 - Reply

    As I work for the chief technology officer (CTO), just wondering if that role would not be relevant to your construct as well.

  2. Cecile Thirion April 4, 2013 - Reply


    Absolutely. In fact, our Corporate CTO is responsible for overseeing all global R&D centers. Our CIO and his researchers work closely with our different CTOs for our group. I’m often in touch with them on our marketing programs.

    Cecile Thirion

  3. phil mickelson majors July 23, 2013 - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about xerox. Regards

  4. kourosh April 18, 2014 - Reply

    Hi there. Given marketing means to get the product or service to the market (introduction of value to customer) and capture the value in turn , and on the other hand , innovation also indicates the same, so what is the difference between these two? how you distinguish them from each other?

    • Cecile Thirion April 21, 2014 - Reply


      Marketing and Innovation share the same objective: creating a remarkable client experience.

      In that regard, they are natural partners. There’re certainly differences in the way we operate but the ultimate goal is to find the right approach together. How? Maybe by getting to know each other, identifying common goals and being willing to experiment together.

      Cecile Thirion

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